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But  not  to  me  returns 

Day,  or  the  sweet  approach  of  ev'n  or  morn, 
Or  sight  of  vernal  bloom,  or  summer's  rose  ; 
Or  flocks,  or  herds,  or  human  face  divine; 
But  cloud  instead,  and  ever-during  dark 
Surrounds  me,  from  the  cheerful  ways  of  men 
Cut  off,  and  for  the  book  of  knowledge  fair 
Presented  with  an  universal  blank."  \  0 

BIRMINGHAM  :  *  y^       \ 

PRINTED    BY   J.   W.    SBOWELL,   48,  NEW-STREET,    V 




Introductiou         v 

To  the  Reader         ix 

Life  of  the  Author      xi 

The  Lives  of 

Homer 1 

Milton        11 

Rev.  Thomas  Blacklock,  D.D.    . . 28 

Nicholas  Saunderson,  L.L.D.  F.R.S 49 

Leonard  Euler,  Professor  of  Mathematics 61 

John  Gough,  of  Kendal 73 

John  Metcalf,  of  Knaresborough 84 

Zisca,  the  Bohemian  Reformer       108 

Huber,  the  Blind  Philosopher  of  Geneva 122 

Alexander  Davidson,  of  Dalkeith 136 

Carolan,  the  Blind  Poet  and  Musician      144 

Edward  Rushton,  of  Liverpool 150 

Hugh  James,  M.D.  and  Blind  Musician  of  Carlisle  . .          158 

Rev.  Richard  Lucas,  D.D 161 

Dr.  Henry  Moyes 167 

John  Stanley,  D.M 175 

Thomas  Holland,  the  Blind  Teacher         183 

Dr.  Clancy,  a  Dramatic  Poet 188 

Rev.  John  Troughton 193 

Dennis  Hampson,  of  Magilligan 197 

Franciscus  Salinas,  of  Salamanca       205 

Thomas  Wilson,  the  Bell-ringer  of  Dumfries       ..      ..     209 

William  Kennedy,  of  Tanderagee      216 

Joseph  Strong,  the  Mechanic  and  Musician  of  Carlisle       220 


Anecdotes  of 

Henry  the  Blind  Minstrel '224 

William  Jamieson,  Professor  of  History,  iu  the  Univer- 
sity of  Glasgow  228 

David  Mc.  Beath,  Teacher  in  Edinburgh 232 

John,  the  Blind  King  of  Bohemia 235 

Extraordinary  instances  of  acuteness  in  the  senses  of 

Hearing  and  Feeling 238 

The  Blind  Bookseller  of  Augsburgh 239 

Some  particulars  of  the  last  years  of  the  life  of  Handel  240 

Dr.  Nicholas  Bacon      242 

Nathaniel  Price,  a  Blind  Bookseller       244 

The  Blind  Taylor 245 

Caspar  Crumbhorn,  a  celebrated  Musician 247 

The  Biter  Bit,  and  other  Anecdotes 248 

The  Blind  Engineer 2.51 

John  Gower  2o3 

Didymus  of  Alexandria 254 

The  Blind  Clergyman  257 

James  Holman,  R.N 260 

Nelson 264 

Mademoiselle  de  Salignac        26S 

Anna  Williams       273 

Joan  Wast         275 

Theresa  Paradis 278 

Extraordinary  Accomplishments 280 

Sir  John  Fielding 286 

The  Rev.  Edward  Stokes 288 

John  Kay       289 

Francis  Linley 296 

John  Axe       296 

William  Clementshaw      297 

Henry  Hatsfield 297 

Timoleon  the  Grecian  General        298 



The  branch  of  biography  which  the  following 
pages  exhibit,  has  not,,  until  now,  been  entered  on  as 
a  distinct  subject.  In  all  preceding  w^orks,  the  lives 
of  the  blind  have  been  classed  and  confounded  with 
those  of  others;  and  though  individuals  have  been 
pointed  out  as  objects  of  admiration  and  astonishment, 
yet  no  work  has  appeared  in  which  they  have  been 
considered  in  a  proper  point  of  view,  as  a  class  of 
men  seemingly  separated  from  society ;  cut  off  from 
the  whole  visible  world,  and  deprived  of  the  most  val- 
uable faculty  that  man  can  possess ;  yet,  in  many  in- 
stances, overcoming  all  those  difficulties  which  would 
have  been  thought  insurmountable,  had  not  experi- 
ence proved  the  contrary. 

In  the  pursuit  of  knowledge,  the  blind  have  been 
very  successful,  and  many  of  them  have  acquired  the 
first  literary  honours,  that  their  own,  or  foreign  uni- 
versities could  confer.  If  they  have  not  excelled,  they 
have  equalled  many  of  their  contemporaries,  in  the 
different  branches  of  philosophy,  but  more  particu- 
larly in   the  science  of  mathematics,  many  of  them 


having  been  able  to  solve  the  most  abstruse  problems 
in  algebra.  In  poetry,  they  have  been  equally  dis- 
tinguished. Two  of  the  greatest  men  that  ever  courted 
the  muses,  laboured  under  the  deprivation  of  sight — 
Homer,  the  venerable  father  of  epic  poetry,  and 
Milton,  the  inimitable  author  of  "  Paradise  Lost." 
In  philosophy,  Saunderson  and  Euler  were  eminently 
distinguished.  The  former  lost  his  sight  w^hen  only 
twelve  months  old,  but  was  enabled,  by  the  strength 
of  his  comprehensive  genius,  to  delineate  the  phenom- 
ena of  the  rainbow,  with  all  the  variegated  beauty  of 
colours,  and  to  clear  up  several  dark  and  mysterious 
passages,  which  appeared  in  Newton's  Principia.  And 
though  the  latter  did  not  lose  his  sight  until  he  ar- 
rived at  the  years  of  manhood,  yet,  after  that  period, 
he  was  able  to  astonish  the  world  by  his  labours  in  the 
rich  fields  of  science,  where  he  earned  those  laurels 
which  still  contmue  to  flourish  in  unfaded  bloom.  He 
had  the  honour  of  settling  that  dispute  which  had  so 
long  divided  the  opinions  of  philosophers  in  Europe, 
respecting  the  Newtonian  and  Cartesian  systems,  by 
deciding  in  favour  of  Newton,  to  the  satisfaction  of 
all  parties.  The  treasures  of  his  fertile  genius  still 
enrich  the  academies  of  Paris,  Basle,  Berlin,  and 
St.  Petersburgh. 

In  mechanics,  the  blind  have  almost  surpassed  the 
bounds  of  probability,  were  not  facts  supported  by  evi- 
dence of  unquestionable  authority.  Here,  we  find 
architects  building  bridges,  drawing  plans  of  new 
roads,  and  executing  them  to  the  satisfaction  of  the 
commissioners.  These  roads  are  still  to  be  seen  in 
the  counties  of  York  and  Lancaster,  where  thev  have 


been  carried  througli  the  most  difficult  parts  of  the 
country,  over  bogs  and  mountains.  Indeed,  there  are 
few  branches  of  mechanics  in  which  the  blind  have 
not  excelled. 

It  was  of  trifling  importance  to  me,  at  what  time  of 
life  or  by  what  cause,  the  subjects  of  these  inemoirs 
lost  their  sight,  provided  they  distinguished  them- 
selves after  they  became  blind.  My  principal  object 
was,  to  exemplify  the  powers  of  the  human  mind,  im- 
der  one  of  the  greatest  privations  to  which  man  is  ex- 
posed in  this  life.  It  was  partly  with  a  view  of  res- 
cuing my  fellow  sufferers  from  the  neglect  and  obscu- 
rity in  which  many  of  them  were  involved,  that  I  was 
induced  to  commence  the  present  work, — an  un- 
dertaking attended  with  immense  toil  and  laborious 
research.  This  will  readily  be  allowed,  when  it  is 
considered  that  I  had  often  to  depend  on  the  kindness 
of  strangers,  for  the  loan  of  such  books  as  were  requi- 
site for  my  purpose,  and  also  to  supply  the  place  of  a 
reader  or  amanuensis.  However,  after  surmounting 
the  various  difficulties  with  which  I  had  to  contend, 
the  work  made  its  appearance  in  1820,  in  one  volume, 
12mo.  The  reception  it  met  with  from  the  jDubHc, 
was  gratifying  to  my  feelings,  and  far  exceeded  my 

The  present  edition  is  very  much  improved  and 
enlarged;  many  new  and  interesting  subjects  being 
added,  which  I  hope  will  meet  with  the  approbation 
of  my  kind  friends,  and  generous  subscribers. 




When  perusing  the  productions  of  the  philoso- 
pher, the  divine,  or  the  biographer,  there  is  no  in- 
quiry more  natural  to  the  human  mind,  whether  ig- 
norant or  intelligent,  than  "  Who  is  the  author  of 
this  production  ?"  If,  therefore,  a  memoir  of  the  wri- 
ter accompanies  a  pleasing  or  instructive  work,  the 
account  is  read  with  avidity;  and  although  there  be 
nothing  extraordinary  in  the  narrative, — nothing  by 
which  the  individual  is  peculiarly  distinguished  from 
his  contemporaries,  yet  the  outlines  of  his  life  are 
calculated  to  gratify  the  curiosity  which  his  works 
have  excited. 

I  have  not  the  vanity,  however,  to  suppose,  that 
any  of  my  readers  will  have  their  curiosity  so  strongly 
excited  in  relation  to  the  author,  or  rather  compiler, 
of  the  succeeding  articles ;  neither  do  I  vainly  imagine 
%at  they  would  sustain  an  irreparable  loss,  by  re- 
maining ignorant  of  the  particulars  that  are  to  follow 
No,  but  it  is  pleasing  to  a  rational  mind,  to  contem- 
plate the  footsteps  of  an  all-directing  Providence,  to 
trace  the  progress  of  the  human  mind  in  various  rela- 
tions, and  become  acquainted  with  the  actions  of  in- 
dividuals, who  have  laboured  under  great  difficulties. 
The  following  memoir  is  offered  to  the  reader,  as  a 
simple  unvarnished  tale,  and  as  calculated  to  awaken 

X.  TO    THE    READER. 

those  sentiments  of  sympathy,  which  are  common  both 
to  the  peasant  and  philosopher. 

Persuaded,  from  the  kind  encouragement  I  have 
experienced,  that  this  narrative  will  fall  into  the  hands 
of  many  of  my  distinguished  and  disinterested  friends, 
I  should  consider  myself  ungrateful,  were  I  not  to  de- 
clare, that  no  length  of  time,  no  change  of  circum- 
stances, will  ever  be  able  to  efface  from  my  memory, 
the  pleasing  recollections  of  unmerited  kindness  so 
long  experienced ;  recollections  which  are  stamped  in 
indelible  characters  upon  my  heart. 






"  But  what  avails  it  to  record  a  name, 

That  courts  no  rank  among  the  Sons  of  fame." 

I  WAS  born  May  24th,  1779,  in  Richmond, 
State  of  Virginia,  North  America.  My  father,  John 
Wilson,  was  a  native  of  Scotland.  His  family  was 
originally  of  Queen's- ferry,  a  small  village  in  Fife- 
shire,  about  eleven  miles  from  Edinburgh ;  he  had  an 
uncle  who  emigrated  to  America  when  a  young  man, 
as  a  mechanic,  where,  by  honest  industry  and  prudent 
economy,  he  soon  amassed  a  considerable  projDerty. 
He  wrote  for  my  father,  who  was  then  about  eighteen 
years  of  age,  and  promised  to  make  him  his  heir  in 
case  he  would  come  to  America.  My  grandfather 
hesitated  for  some  time,  but  at  length  consented,  and 
preparations  were  accordingly  made  for  my  father's 
departure,  who  sailed  from  Greenock,  and  arrived 
safely  at  Norfolk,  in  the  United  States ;  from  whence 
he  was  forwarded  by  a  merchant  of  that  place,  and 


soon  reached  Richmond,  where  he  was  gladly  received 
hy  his  uncle.  This  man  being  in  the  decline  of  life, 
without  a  family,  and  bowed  down  by  infirmities,  now 
looked  upon  his  nephew  as  the  comfort  of  his  life,  and 
the  support  of  his  declining  years,  and  therefore  en- 
trusted him  with  the  entire  management  of  his  affairs, 
which  he  had  the  happiness  of  conducting  to  the  old 
man's  satisfaction.  Thus  he  continued  to  act  till  the 
death  of  his  uncle  in  1775,  when  he  found  himself  in 
possession  of  £3000  value,  in  money  and  landed 

Prior  to  this  event,  my  father,  on  a  visit  to  Balti- 
more, became  acquainted  with  my  mother,  Elizabeth 
Johnson.  To  her  he  was  introduced  by  an  inti- 
mate friend,  a  Mr.  Freeman,  whom  I  may  have 
occasion  to  mention  hereafter.  His  uncle,  on  hear- 
ing this,  could  not  bear  the  idea  of  a  matrimonial 
connexion  during  his  own  life,  and  so  stood  as  a  grand 
barrier  to  the  completion  of  his  wishes ;  but,  at  the 
decease  of  the  old  man,  being  left  to  think  and 
act  for  himself,  as  soon  as  his  affairs  were  settled,  he 
hastened  to  Baltimore,  where  the  long  wished  for  union 
took  place. 

Shortly  after  his  marriage  he  returned  again  to 
Virginia.  His  whole  mind  was  now  bent  on  the 
improvement  of  his  plantation,  and  the  acquiring  of 
a  paternal  inheritance  for  his  offspring.  Flushed 
with  the  hope  of  spending  the  eve  of  life  on  a  fertile 
estate  that  amply  rewarded  the  hand  of  industry,  of 
spending  it  in  the  bosom  of  his  family,  and  of  tasting 
the  pleasures  which  domestic  retirement  affords,  he 


followed  his  avocation  with  alacrity,  and  could  say 
in  the  midst  of  his  employments, — 

"The  Winter's  night  and  Summer's  day- 
Glide  imperceptibly  away." 

But,  alas,  how  uncertain  are  human  prospects  and 
worldly  possessions  I  How  often  do  they  wither  in  the 
bud;  or  hloom  like  the  rose,  to  be  blasted  when  full 
blown  !  How  repeatedly  do  they  sicken,  even  in  en- 
joyment, and  what  appears  at  a  distance  like  a  beau- 
tiful verdant  hill,  degenerates  on  a  closer  survey  into 
a  rugged  barren  rock  !  This  moment  the  sky  is  bright, 
the  air  is  serene,  and  the  sun  of  our  prosperity  beams 
forth  in  unclouded  splendour ;  in  the  next,  blackness 
and  darkness  envelope  us  around,  the  cloud  of  adver- 
sity bursts  upon  our  devoted  heads,  and  we  are  over- 
whelmed by  the  storm.  It  was  so  with  my  father,  and, 
of  course,  the  misfortune  was  entailed  on  me. 

The  disturbance  which  took  place  at  Boston  at  the 
commencement  of  the  revolutionary  war,  was  at  first 
considered  only  a  riot ;  but  it  shortly  began  to  assume 
a  more  formidable  aspect.  The  insurgents  were  soon 
embodied  throughout  all  the  Colonies,  and  the  insur- 
rection became  general.  Between  them  and  the  loyal 
party  no  neutrality  was  allowed,  and  every  man  was 
under  the  necessity  of  finally  joining  one  side  or  the 
other.  For  some  time,  indeed,  my  father  strove  to 
avoid  taking  an  active  part,  but  he  was  soon  convinced 
that  this  was  totally  impossible.  Many  of  his  early 
friends  had  embraced  the  cause  of  the  revolutionists 
and  were  very  anxious  that  he  should  join  their  party. 
To  induce  him  to  do  this,  several  advantageous  offei*s 
were  made  to  him,  and  when  this  expedient  failed, 


threats  were  resorted  to.  Exercising  the  right  which 
belongs  to  every  man,  in  politics,  as  well  as  in  reli- 
gion, I  mean  the  right  of  private  judgment,  he,  in 
conjunction  with  a  number  of  his  neighbours,  enrolled 
himself  in  a  corps  of  volunteers,  for  the  joint  purpose 
of  defending  private  property,  and  supporting  the 
royal  cause.  The  iron  hand  of  war  was  now  stretched 
out,  and  unrelenting  cruelty  towards  each  other,  had 
taken  possession  of  the  hearts  of  those  persons,  who 
were  formerly  united  by  the  ties  of  neighbourly  affec- 
tion ;  consequently,  a  band  of  enraged  incendiaries, 
about  150  in  number,  mostly  black  slaves  belonging 
to  the  neighbouring  planters,  and,  no  doubt  excited 
by  their  masters,  attacked  my  father's  house  in  his 
absence,  plundered  it  of  every  valuable  article,  and 
finally  burned  it  to  the  ground.  From  this  alarming 
catastrophe,  my  mother  and  a  few  domestics  naiTowly 
escaped  with  their  lives,  and  were  obliged  to  seek 
shelter  in  the  neighbouring  woods,  where  they  were  ex- 
posed to  the  inclemency  of  the  weather  during  a  severe 
winter  night.  It  would  indeed  be  painful  to  me  to 
enter  minutely  into  the  sufferings  of  my  parents  at 
this  eventful  period;  suffice  it  to  say,  they  were  stript 
of  their  all,  and  were  left  destitute  and  forlorn. 

Down  to  the  period  of  which  I  am  now  speaking, 
no  political  question  had  ever  given  rise  to  more  con- 
troversy than  the  American  war.  It  is  not  my  busi- 
ness to  enter  into  discussion  of  the  subject;  all  that 
remains  necessary  for  me  to  say,  is,  a  word  or  two  in 
relation  to  my  father's  political  conduct.  That  man 
who  would  not  rejoice  in  being  able  to  speak  well  of 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  XV. 

a  departed  parent,  is  not  entitled  to  the  name  of  man, 
and  cannot  be  characterised  by  the  feelings  common 
to  our  nature.  It  affords  me,  then,  a  degree  of  plea- 
sure to  reflect,  that  my  father  must  have  acted  through- 
out from  principle.  On  this  point  I  am  perfectly 
satisfied,  when  I  consider  him  rejecting  emolument, 
despising  threats,  volunteering  in  the  royal  cause,  for- 
saking his  own  home,  and  thereby  leaving  his  family 
and  property  exposed,  braving  every  danger,  serving 
during  five  campaigns,  and  continuing  active  in  the 
cause  he  had  espoused,  as  long  as  he  could  be  useful 
to  it. 

Being  attached  to  that  part  of  the  army  under  the 
immediate  command  of  Lord  Cornwallis,  he  was  taken 
prisoner  when  that  gallant  General  was  compelled  to 
suiTender  to  a  superior   force.     His  health,  during 
these  disasters,  was  much  impaired,  and  on  being  libe- 
rated, he  thought  of  returning  to  Europe,  in  hopes 
that  the   air  of  his  native  country  would  restore  him 
to  his  wonted  state  of  health  and  vigour.     My  mother 
was  now  residing  near  New-York,  in  the  house  of  a 
friend,  and  thither  he  directed  his  steps.     There  he 
abode  for  a  year,  and  found  his  health  so  much  im- 
proved, that  he  determined  to  lose  no  more  time  in 
America,  but  prepared  to  re-cross  the  Atlantic, — 
"  And  anxious  to  review  his  native  shore, 
"  Upon  the  roaring  waves  embarked  onee  more." 
Bound  for  Liverpool,  the  vessel  set  sail,  under  the 
guidance  of  Capt.  Smith,  and  my  parents  bade  a  final 
adieu  to  the  shores  of  Columbia ;  what  my  father's 
feelings  were  at  this  crisis,  it  would  be  difi^cult  to 


describe.  Separated  from  that  country  in  which  his 
best  hopes  centred — cut  off  from  the  enjoyment  of 
his  lawful  possessions,  without  a  probability  of  ever 
regaining  them — impaired  in  his  constitution,  and 
crossed  in  all  his  former  prospects,  we  may  view  him 
mourning  over  his  misfortunes,  and  devising  plans  for 
his  future  exertions.  It  is  true,  he  might  have  con- 
soled himself  with  the  pleasing  reflection,  that  he  was 
now  about  to  revisit  his  native  land,  to  meet  with  his 
nearest  relations  and  best  friends,  and  to  spend  the 
remainder  of  his  days  in  the  place  of  his  nativity,  in 
peace  and  safety ;  but  how  vain  and  transient  are  the 
hopes  of  mortal  man  !  All  his  joys  and  sorrows,  hopes 
and  fears,  anxious  cares,  and  premature  plans,  were 
shortly  to  terminate  with  himself,  and  I  was  to  be 
left  at  four  years  of  age,  destitute  of  a  father.  They 
had  scarcely  lost  sight  of  land  when  his  disease  re- 
turned with  increased  violence,  and  twelve  days  after 
the  vessel  left  New- York,  he  expired.  The  reader 
will  not  consider  my  situation  utterly  deplorable,  while 
he  thinks  that  still  I  had  a  mother  to  take  care  of  me, 
and  to  assist  me  in  my  childish  years.  True,  I  had 
a  mother,  and  a  mother  who  survived  my  father ;  but 
it  was  only  for  twenty  minutes  ! — for  being  in  the 
last  stage  of  pregnancy,  the  sliock  occasioned  by  his 
death  brought  on  premature  labour,  and  terminated 
her  existence.  Thus,  on  a  sudden,  I  lost  both  father 
and  mother,  saw  them  sewed  up  in  the  same  ham- 
mock, and  committed  to  a  watery  grave  ! 

"  My  mother,  when  I  learned  that  thou  wast  dead, 
Say,  wast  thou  conscious  of  the  tears  I  shed  } 

OF   THE    AUTHOR.  XVll. 

Hover'd  thy  spirit  o'er  thy  sorrowing  son, 
Wretch  even  then,  life's  journey  just  begun  ? 
Perhaps  thou  gav'st  me,  though  unfelt,  a  kiss. 
Perhaps  a  tear,  if  souls  can  weep  in  bliss, — 
Ah  !  that  maternal  smile,  it  answers  Yes." 
Here  my  misfortunes  did  not  end  ;  I  was  seized  by 
the  small  pox,  and  for  want  of  a  mother's  care,  and 
proper  medical  aid,  this  most  loathsome  disease  de- 
prived me  of  my  sight.  After  a  long  and  dangerous 
voyage,  it  being  a  hurricane  almost  all  the  time,  the 
Captain  was  obliged  to  put  into  Belfast  harbour,  as 
the  ship  had  suffered  much  in  her  masts,  rigging,  &c. 
and  the  crew  were  nearly  exhausted.  When  we  ar- 
rived there,  I  had  not  recovered  from  the  effects  of  my 
late  illness,  the  symptoms  of  which  were  at  one  period 
so  violent,  as  to  threaten  instant  dissolution  ;  to  make 
me  the  more  comfortable,  I  was  sent  immediately  to 
Belfast.  The  following  circumstance  is  still  fresh  in 
my  recollection  :  the  vessel  was  four  miles  from  the 
town,  and  one  of  the  seamen,  who  had  been  my  nurse 
from  the  time  of  my  mother's  death,  and  who,  during 
the  passage,  rendered  me  all  the  assistance  which  his 
situation  allowed,  kept  me  on  his  knee  in  the  boat, 
and  this  kind  hearted  individual  administered  the 
only  cordial  he  possessed,  which  was  rum  and  water. 
There  was  no  time  lost  by  Captain  Smith  in  ap- 
plying to  the  church-warden  in  my  behalf,  and,  in 
order  to  prevent  me  from  becoming  a  charge  to  the 
parish,  he  deposited  in  his  hands  a  sum  of  money, 
sufficient  to  pay  the  expense  of  supporting  me  for  five 
years,  and  I  was  soon  provided  with  a  nurse. 

The  reader,  by  this  time,  will  be  curious  to  know 

XVlll.  THE   LIFE 

how  I  came  by  the  information  contained  in  the  pre- 
ceding pages.     I  am  indebted  for  these  particulars, 
at  least  so  far  as  they  concern  my  family's  misfortunes 
in  America,  to  the  kindness  of  Mr.  Freeman,  who 
came  passenger  in  the  same  ship.     With  this  worthy 
gentleman,    my   mother   had   remained   during  my 
father's  absence,  and  as  I  have  already  observed,  she 
was  received  as  one  of  the  family,  and  treated  with 
all  that  humanity  and  attention  which  her  forlorn  si- 
tuation required.    Mr.  Freeman  had  been  the  sincere 
friend  of  my  father  from  a  short  time  after  he  landed 
in  America ;  their  age  and  their  pursuits  were  the 
same,  and  their  habits,  tastes,  and  dispositions  were 
congenial.     Under  these  circumstances,  a  friendship 
was  commenced,   which,   through  a  long  series   of 
vicissitudes  and  misfortunes,  remained  unbroken — a 
friendship  which  only  ended  with  my  father's  life. 
Although,  at  one  time,  party  politics  ran  high,  and 
although  my  father  joined  the  royal  standard,  while 
Mr.  Freeman  was  a  zealous  republican,  such  were  the 
liberal  sentiments  of  this  gentleman,  that  he  never 
entertained  towards  his  friend  the  least  hostile  feeling; 
and  when  my  father  was  injured  in  his  property,  and 
persecuted  for  his  opinions,  he  was   always  sure  to 
find  an  asylum  under  the  roof  of  this  good  and  worthy 
man.     While  the  vessel  in  which  I   came  to  Ireland 
was  under  repair,  he   and  his  family  resided  at  Pal- 
mer's Hotel,  Belfast,  where,  in  the  hearing  of  Mrs. 
Palmer,  he  related  the  particulars  of  his  early  ac- 
quaintance with  his  deceased  friend,  and  he  subse- 
quent misfortunes  which  befell  him  in  America,  till 


the  lime  of  the  rnournful  catastrophe  which  I  have 
already  described ;  this  he  did  in  such  a  simple  and 
affecting  manner,  as  not  only  caused  him  to  shed  tears 
himself,  but  also  produced  the  same  emotion  in  those 
who  heard  him.  Some  important  papers  belonging 
to  my  father  were  preserved  by  Mr.  F.,  and  given  to 
the  church  warden.  They  consisted  of  old  letters, 
and  a  journal  which  my  father  had  kept  from  the  time 
of  his  departure  from  Scotland  till  he  left  America, 
in  which  every  particular  connected  with  his  history, 
during  that  eventful  period,  was  carefully  noted  ;  but 
Mr.  Scott,  the  church  warden,  without  examination, 
pronounced  them  totally  useless,  and  they  were  sent 
home  to  my  nurse  in  the  trunk  with  my  clothes.  The 
poor  old  woman  was  unable,  herself,  to  ascertain  their 
contents,  nor  did  she  ever  think  of  shewing  them  to 
any  intelligent  person  who  could  turn  them  to  my  ad- 
vantage ;  she  considered  them  mere  waste  paper,  and 
used  to  light  her  pipe  with  them,  and  roll  her  flax, 
while  spinning.  A  little  playfellow  of  mine,  who 
sought  my  company  after  school  hours,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  getting  me  to  tell  stories  to  him,  (for  I  was  at 
that  time  famed  over  the  neighbourhood  for  my  le- 
gendary tales,)  would  occasionally  read  to  me  such 
scraps  of  my  father's  letters  and  journal,  as  he  found 
scattered  about  the  room.  From  this  circumstance, 
I  still  remember  the  names  of  Generals  Howe,  Clinton, 
and  Robinson,  which  occasionally  occmTed,  and  with 
whom  my  father  had  corresponded,  during  the  course 
of  his  military  services  in  America.  Much  blame  has 
been  attached  to  Mr.  Robert  Scott,  for  not  having 


had  my  case  more  narrowly  enquired  into,  while 
Captain  Smith  and  Mr.  Freeman  were  in  Belfast. 
From  the  testimony  ot  two  such  respectable  indivi- 
duals, and  the  information  the  above  documents  would 
probabl}'  have  afforded,  my  claims  might  have  been 
substantiated,  and  a  compensation  obtained  for  me 
in  lieu  of  my  father's  services,  and  the  losses  he  sus- 
tained during  the  revolutionary  war.  But  Mr.  Scott, 
being  a  man  of  the  world,  thought  he  had  fulfilled  his 
duty  when  he  had  provided  me  with  a  nurse,  and 
seen  me  comfortably  lodged.  Some  years  after,  on 
being  spoken  to  respecting  his  conduct  in  this  affair, 
he  replied,  ''  that  he  had  enough  business  of  his  own 
to  attend  to,  without  giving  himself  unnecessary  trou- 
ble." Thus  was  I  neglected,  at  a  time  when  some- 
thing might  have  been  done  for  me,  by  those  whose 
duty  it  was  to  take  care  of  me ;  but  I  was  an  infant, 
an  orphan,  and  a  stranger,  and  there  was  no  one  to 
step  forward  on  my  behalf.  Mr.  Freeman,  to  whom 
I  owe  so  much,  and  whose  memory  I  shall  always 
cherish  with  the  most  grateful  recollection,  was  so  ill, 
during  his  stay  in  Belfast,  that  he  was  confined  to  his 
room.  As  soon  as  the  vessel  was  refitted,  he  proceeded 
with  his  family  to  England,  promising  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Palmer,  on  his  departure,  to  write  concerning  me, 
and  to  take  me  back  with  him  to  America,  having 
only  come  for  the  benefit  of  his  health,  and  being 
about  to  return  as  soon  as  a  change  should  take  place 
for  the  better.  His  intention,  he  said,  was  to  place 
me  under  a  proper  master,  and  have  me  taught  mu- 
sic ;   but  I  never  heard  from  him  after,  and  from 


the  state  of  his  health,  when  he  parted  with  me,  T 
conchide  that  he  has  long  heen  dead. 

The  ship  being  now  completely  repaired,  the  be- 
nevolent Captain  and  kind-hearted  crew  left  me  in 
Belfast,  a  total  stranger.  No  one  knew  me,  or  had 
ever  heard  any  thing  of  my  family.  My  situation  at 
this  time  was  truly  pitiable,  as  I  was  deprived  of  my 
parents  at  the  time  I  most  required  their  care  ;  still, 
however,  I  was  under  the  protection  of  a  merciful 
Providence,  "  who  can  temper  the  wind  to  the  shorn 
lamb."  In  His  word  He  has  promised  to  be  a  father 
to  the  fatherless,  and  to  me  this  gracious  saying  has 
certainly  been  fulfilled.  Many  of  the  first  families  in 
the  kingdom  I  can  rank  among  my  kindest  friends ; 
and  to  nothing  can  I  attribute  this,  but  to  the  influ- 
ence of  His  Providence,  who  inclines  the  hearts  of  men 
to  that  which  is  pleasing  in  His  sight. 

My  nurse  was  a  good-natured  old  woman,  and  the 
anxiety  which  she  shewed  for  my  recovery,  was  much 
greater  than  could  have  been  expected  from  a  stran- 
ger ;  night  after  night  she  sat  by  me,  attended  to  my 
calls  and  administered  to  my  wants,  with  all  that  m.a- 
ternal  tenderness  which  a  fond  mother  manifests  to 
the  child  of  her  bosom.  The  prayers  which  she 
offered  up  in  my  behalf,  and  the  tears  of  sympathy 
which  stole  down  her  aged  cheek,  bespoke  a  heart 
that  could  feel  for  the  miseries  of  a  fellow-creature. 
Contrary  to  all  expectation,  I  recovered,  and  in  the 
course  of  a  few  months  I  was  able  to  grope  my  way 
through  the  house  alone.  Shortly  after  this,  my 
right  eye  was  couched  by  the  late  Surgeon  Wilson, 


and  in  consequence  of  this  operation,  I  could  soon 
discern  surrounding  objects  and  their  various  colours. 
This  was  certainly  a  great  mercy,  for,  though  the 
enjoyment  did  not  continue  long,  yet  the  recollection 
of  it  affords  me  pleasure  even  to  the  present  day. 

One  day,  when  about  seven  years  of  age,  as  I 
crossed  the  street,  I  was  attacked  and  dreadfully 
mangled  by  an  ill-natured  cow.  This  accident  nearly 
cost  me  my  life,  and  deprived  me  of  that  sight  which 
was  in  a  great  degree  restored,  but  which  I  have  never 
since  enjoyed.  Thus  it  was  the  will  of  Providence 
to  baffle  the  efforts  of  human  skill,  and  to  doom  me  to 
perpetual  blindness  ;  and  it  is  this  reflection  which 
enables  me  to  bear  my  misfortune  without  repining. 

"  Fond  memory  here  revives 

"  Each  dream-like  image  of  the  days  gone  by; 
"  What  time  on  other  shores,     *     *     *     * 
"  T  chased  the  scaly  brood,  or  mid  the  throng 
"Of  giddy  school-boys,  sported  in  the  waves, 
"Or  with  young  triumph  saw  the  tiny  ship, 
"  Fair  miniature  of  such  as  bear  afar 
"The  thunder  of  Britannia,  in  the  race 
"  Shoot  past  her  rivals." 
When  I  was  about  eight  or  nine  years  of  age,  I  was 
not  only  projector,  but  workman,  for  all  the  children 
in  the  neighbourhood.     I  amused  myself  occasionally 
in  constructing  little  windmills,  cars,  and  ships.     A 
kind  friend  made  me  a  present  of  a  little  ship,  a  per- 
fect model  of  the  Royal  George,  which   was  lost  at 
Spithead,  and  this  toy  was  esteemed  by  me  as  one  of 
the  most  precious  gifts  I  could  possibly  receive.  Hav- 
ing made  myself  perfectly  acquainted  with  its  struc- 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  XXUl. 

ture,  I  thoiiglu  of  making  one  for  myself,  upon  the 
same  principle.  I  procured  a  piece  of  wood,  and 
with  no  other  tools  than  an  old  knife,  a  chisel,  and  a 
hammer,  completed  (not,  however,  without  the  loss 
of  some  blood,)  my  first  attempt  at  ship-building. 
This  pleased  my  juvenile  companions  so  well,  that  I 
had  every  day  numerous  applications  for  ships.  They 
procured  me  the  wood,  and  my  ambition  was  not  a 
little  augmented,  when  I  found  that  I  was  applied  to 
by  boys  considerably  my  seniors,  and  possessing  many 
advantages  of  which  I  never  had  to  boast ;  before  I 
resigned  this  trade,  I  completed  my  fourteenth  ship. 
There  was  in  the  neighbourhood  a  piece  of  water, 
about  one  hundred  feet  in  circumference,  appropriated 
to  the  accommodation  of  some  flocks  of  ducks  and 
geese.  In  the  evening  we  were  accustomed  to  dispos- 
sess these  hereditary  occupiers  of  their  native  ele- 
ment, and  form  our  fleet  into  two  divisions;  the  Eng- 
lish were  distinguished  by  red  and  blue  streamers — 
the  French,  by  white.  Two  boys,  with  their  breeches 
rolled  up  to  their  knees,  were  generally  employed  to 
direct  the  movements  of  each  squadron,  he  on  the 
right  being  distinguished  by  the  name  of  Admiral, 
and  the  boy  on  the  left  by  that  of  Commodore.  The 
plan  of  attack  was,  that  each  ship  should  be  so  far 
from  her  companions,  as  to  preserve  the  regular  sail- 
ing distance,  and  at  the  commencement  of  the  action, 
the  English  vessels  were  so  placed  as  always  to  have 
the  weather- gage  of  the  enemy.  Each  English  ship 
formed  a  triangle  with  her  two  French  opponents, 
and  so,  when  the  wind  blew,  she  passed  between 
them,  and  this  was  called  breaking  the  line.  It  was 


the  duty  of  the  Admiral  and  Commodore  of  each  fleet, 
at  this  alarming  jmicture,  to  restore  order,  and  form 
the  lines  anew.  The  English  were  drawn  up  in  the 
same  position  which  they  occupied  at  the  commence- 
ment of  the  action ;  the  French  were  placed  about 
two  feet  in  advance,  with  their  sterns  towards  the 
English,  and  the  wind  filling  the  sails  of  both  equally, 
caused  the  French  to  fly  and  the  English  to  pursue. 
At  this  moment  the  shout  of  triumph  was  raised,  and 
the  joyful  cry  of  victory  !  victory  !  burst  forth  from 
the  infant  multitude  who  were  witnesses  of  our  naval 

"Loud  shouts  of  triumph  from  the  victors  rise, 
"Roll  o'er  the  maiu,  and  echo  to  the  skies." 
I  have  been  somewhat  particular  in  my  details  of 
these  Lilliputian  engagements,  hoping  that  it  may 
prove  useful,  in  case  this  little  book  should  chance 
to  fall  into  the  hands  of  any  benevolent  person,  who 
might  read  it  to  some  blind  boy,  to  whom  it  might 
serve  as  a  stimulus  to  spur  him  on  to  similar  amuse- 
ments. It  could  not  fail  to  produce,  to  such  a  boy, 
a  two-fold  advantage,  as  the  exercise  would  be  con- 
ducive to  his  health,  (which  he  could  not  expect  to 
enjoy  sitting  in  the  chimney-corner,  brooding  over 
his  misfortunes,)  and  it  would  eflectually  destroy  that 
timidity  and  melancholy  which  are  generally  the  fruits 
of  a  sedentary  life,  and  would  inspire  him  with  a  con- 
fidence and  courage,  which  he  could  not  expect  to  at- 
tain in  an  inactive  state. 

A  few  years  after  this  event,  my  foster-mother  died, 
and  again  I  was  left  forlorn  and  without  a  friend.  In 
this  precarious  state,  the  only  means  I  had  of  ob- 
taining subsistence  were  apparently  ill-suited  to  my 

OF   THE   author:  XXV. 

situation.  The  reader  may,  perhaps,  smile  when  I 
inform  him,  that  at  this  time  I  was  considered  by 
many  as  a  man  of  letters,  and  that  I  earned  my  bread 
in  consequence  of  my  practical  engagements  in  re- 
lation to  them.  This,  indeed,  was  the  case ;  for  T 
was  employed  to  carry  letters  to  and  from  the  offices 
of  the  different  merchants  in  the  town  and  neighbour- 
hood. My  punctuality  and  dispatch  in  this  respect 
were  much  in  my  favour,  so  that  I  was  generally  em- 
ployed in  preference  to  those  who  enjoyed  the  use  of 
all  their  senses.  In  the  course  of  time  my  sphere 
was  enlarged,  and  often,  on  important  business,  I 
have  borne  dispatches  to  the  distance  of  thirty  or 
forty  miles.  This  was  certainly  not  a  little  extraor- 
dinary, in  a  place  where  the  confusion  and  bustle  of 
business  subjected  me  to  so  many  dangers. 

Being  advised  to  attempt  the  study  of  music,  I 
made  an  almost  hopeless  effort,  as  I  had  no  person 
to  instruct  me  ;  but,  although  I  could  only  scrape  a 
few  tunes  which  I  had  learned  by  ear,  this  did  not 
prevent  me  from  being  called  on  occasionally  to  offi- 
ciate at  dances.  For  no  matter  how  despical  le 
the  musician,  or  insignificant  his  instrument,  the 
sound  operates  like  an  invisible  charm — elevates  the 
passions  of  the  lower  orders — makes  them  shake  their 
grief  and  their  cares  off  at  their  heels,  and,  moving 
*'on  the  light  fantastic  toe,"  causes  them  to  forget 
the  bitterness  of  the  past,  and  prevents  them  from 
brooding  over  the  prospect  of  future  evils. 

"  And  happy,  though  my  harsh  touch,  falt'ring  still, 
But  mock'd  all  time  and  marr'd  the  dancer's  skill  j 
Yet  would  the  village  praise  my  wondrous  power, 
And  dance,  forgetful  of  the  noon-tide  hour." 



I  soon  found,  in  consequence  of  this  avocation, 
that  I  was  exposed  to  numerous  vices.  I  was  obli- 
ged to  associate  with  the  dregs  of  society,  to  witness 
many  scenes  of  folly  and  great  wickedness,  and  to 
stay  out  late  at  nights,  and  thus  expose  myself  to 
dangers  of  different  kinds.  As  my  feelings  were  con- 
tinually at  variance  with  this  occupation,  which  I 
adopted  more  from  necessity  than  from  choice,  I  soon 
gave  it  up,  and  composed  a  farewell  address  to  my 

The  family  in  which  I  lived  was  both  poor  and  il- 
literate, and  hence  I  was  a  considerable  lime  before  I 
acquired  any  taste  for  knowledge.  They  were  gene- 
rous and  humane  to  all  who  required  their  help,  and 
were  also  strictly  honest  in  their  dealings,  and  would 
not  defraud  on  any  account  whatever.  I  am  happy 
to  have  it  in  my  power  to  notice  these  traits  of  charac- 
ter, which  certainly  reflect  credit  on  their  memories ; 
yet,  praiseworthy  as  these  may  appear,  they  were  de- 
ficient in  their  duty  to  me,  so  far  as  the  improvement 
of  my  mind  was  concerned.  It  was  painful,  indeed, 
in  my  youth,  to  behold  both  in  towns  and  villages,  the 
ignorance  and  wickedness  which  prevailed  among 
children  of  both  sexes — swearing,  lying,  and  throwing 
stones ;  and  the  feelings  of  the  passengers,  while 
walking  along,  were  not  only  pained  by  their  profane 
language,  but  their  personal  safety  was  also  in  danger, 
from  the  stones  which  were  carelessly  and  mischiev- 
ously flung  around.  But,  thanks  be  to  God,  this  evil 
is  at  length  disappearing;  the  remedy  applied  has 
been  successful,  and  that  remedy  is  the  Sunday 
School.     In  the  districts  where  these  institutions  are 

OF    THE    AUTHOR,  XXVll. 

established,  the  children,  both  in  their  appearance 
and  manners,  have  undergone  a  great  change  for  the 
better.  Instead  of  injuring  their  neighbours,  and 
breaking  the  Lord's  Day,  they  are  now  taught  to  read 
the  Scriptures,  which,  under  the  Divine  blessing, 
qualifies  them  to  fill  the  various  situations  of  society. 
They  are  here  taught  that  stealing  is  sinful,  and  that 
lying,  swearing,  and  bearing  false  witness,  subject 
them  to  the  wrath  of  Heaven.  They  are  also  taught 
to  honour  their  parents,  that  they  may  obtain  the 
blessing  which  God  has  promised  unto  the  children 
of  obedience,  ''and  that  their  days  maybe  long  in 
the  land,  which  the  Lord  their  God  giveth  them ;" 
and  they  are  likewise  strictly  enjoined  to  observe  the 
Sabbath-day.  These  doctrines  may  be  lightly  looked 
upon  by  some,  but  it  is  in  a  breach  of  these  laws,  and 
a  disregard  of  these  truths,  that  all  the  crimes  origi- 
nate, which  disgrace  the  character  of  man,  and  degrade 
him  below  the  beasts  of  the  field. 

I  present  these  circumstances  to  my  reader,  that 
he  may  know  the  kind  of  society  in  which  I  mingled 
during  the  first  fifteen  years  of  my  life.  It  cannot  be 
imagined  that  much  information  could  be  derived  from 
such  a  source  as  this. 

About  this  time  I  began  to  pay  some  attention  to 
books;  but  my  first  course  of  reading  was,  indeed,  of 
a  very  indifferent  description,  as  I  was  obliged  to  lis- 
ten to  what  was  most  convenient.  However,  I  made 
the  best  of  what  I  heard,  and  in  a  short  time,  in  con- 
junction with  a  boy  of  my  own  age  who  read  to  me, 
I  was  master  of  the  principal  circumstances  in  Jack 
the  Giant  Killer,  Valentine  and  Orson,  Robinson 

XXVlll.  THE   LIFE 

Crusoe,  and  Gulliver's  Travels.  The  subject  of  these 
formed  my  taste,  was  swallowed  with  avidity,  and  in- 
spired me  with  a  degree  of  enthusiasm  which  awakes 
even  at  the  present  day,  on  hearing  a  new  and  inter- 
esting work  read.  These,  however,  were  soon  laid 
anide  for  novels  and  romances,  several  hundred  vol- 
umes of  which  I  procured  and  got  read  in  the  course 
of  three  years ;  alid,  although  there  are  few  passages 
out  of  all  I  heard  then  which  I  think  worth  a  place  in 
my  recollection  now,  yet,  at  that  time,  I  was  well 
acquainted  with  the  most  interesting  characters  and 
events  contained  in  these  works.  INIy  present  dishke 
to  this  kind  of  reading  I  do  not  entertain  without  rea- 
son, for,  first,  a  great  deal  of  precious  time  is  thereby 
lost  that  might  be  more  usefully  employed ;  secondly, 
the  judgment  is  left  without  exercise,  while  the  pas- 
sions are  inflamed ;  and  thirdly,  those  who  are  much 
in  the  habit  of  novel  reading,  seldom  have  a  taste  for 
books  of  any  other  kind,  and  hence  their  judgments 
of  men  and  things  must  differ  as  far  from  his  who 
has  seen  the  world,  as  most  novels  differ  from  real 
life.  I  am  well  aware  that  some  of  them  are  well 
written,  and  display  ability  in  the  author,  have  the 
circumstances  well  disposed,  the  characters  ably  deli- 
neated, and  the  interest  preserved  till  the  final  close 
of  the  last  scene,  which  generally  proves  impressive 
and  affecting.  But  to  what  does  all  this  tend  ?  (Ex- 
cept in  recording  the  customs  and  manners  of  the 
times  which  they  represent,)  only  to  mislead  the 
imagination,  to  foster  a  morbid  sensibility  to  fictitious 
woe,  and  a  romantic  admiration  of  ideal  and  unattain- 
able perfection,  without  strengthening  the  judgment. 


cultivating  active  benevolence,  or  a  just  appreciation 
of  real  worth.  In  contrasting  the  characters  of  Tom 
Jones  and  Sir  Charles  Grandison,  with  those  of  the 
Duke  of  Sully  and  Lord  Clarendon,  we  observe  a 
striking  difference  betv/een  the  real  and  fictitious  per- 
sonages ;  yet,  the  mere  novel  reader  is  neither  impro- 
ved nor  amused  in  reading  the  lives  of  these  illustrious 
characters,  while  the  tear  of  sympathy  steals  down 
his  cheek,  as  he  pores  over  the  imaginary  sufferings 
of  the  heroes  and  heroines  of  romance.  There  are, 
I  know,  many  novels  to  which  the  above  observations 
do  not  apply,  particularly  some  of  modern  date,  which 
are  very  superior  to  those  above  mentioned  ;  but  still 
the  best,  even  of  these,  present  overcharged  pictures 
of  real  life,  and,  in  proportion  as  they  are  fascinating, 
they  indispose  the  mind  to  more  serious  reading. 

I  now  engaged  with  Mr  Gordon,  Editor  of  the 
Belfast  News-Letter,  to  deliver  the  papers  to  subscri- 
bers on  the  days  of  publication.  Half  a  dozen  papers, 
and  two  shillings  per  week,  were  my  wages  in  this 
service.  The  papers  I  lent  to  tradesmen  at  a  half- 
penny an  hour,  and  when  the  time  allotted  to  the 
first  set  of  customers  was  expired,  it  afforded  me  an 
agi'eeable  exercise  to  collect  and  distribute  them  to 
others.  While  in  this  employment,  I  had  sometimes 
to  go  four  or  five  miles  into  the  country,  but,  having 
an  accurate  knowledge  of  the  surrounding  neighbour- 
hood, and  being  well  acquainted  with  every  gentle- 
man's seat  in  the  vicinity  of  Belfast,  however  remotely 
situated  from  the  public  road,  I  was  able  to  execute 
my  business  with  exactness  and  despatch. 

I  hope  the  account  of  the  following  adventure  will 


be  acceptable  to  my  readers,  as  it  will  illustrate  what 
I  have  said,  respecting  my  perambulations  through 
the  town  and  neighbourhood  where  I  was  reared. 

On  a  winter's  evening,  in  1797,  as  I  stood  in  one 
of  the  principal  streets,  I  was  accosted  by  a  person, 
who,  in  the  southern  accent,  enquired  its  name. 
After  I  had  imparted  the  desired  information,  he  told 
me  that  he  was  a  soldier,  and  belonged  to  a  detach- 
ment of  the  Limerick  JNIilitia,  which  had  marched 
into  Belfast  that  day.  "I  went  out,"  said  he,  ''to 
look  for  the  sergeant,  to  get  the  pay,  and  being  a 
stranger  in  the  town,  I  lost  myself;  I  left  my  wife  and 
my  firelock  in  the  lodging  house,  and  I  forgot  the 
name  both  of  the  street  and  of  the  people  that  own 
the  house.  I  have  been  wandering  about  these  two 
or  three  hours,  and  nobody  can  tell  me  where  they 
are."  I  enquired,  if  he  had  observed  any  particular 
building  near  the  place  where  he  left  his  wife.  ''  I 
believe,"  replied  he,  "^after  turning  one  or  two  corners, 
I  observed  a  church."  I  considered  for  a  moment, 
in  which  of  the  streets  in  that  quarter  there  was  a 
lodging  house,  and  recollected  that  a  Mrs.  Tawny  kept 
a  house  of  entertainment  in  William-street.  I  bade 
him  follow  me,  and  took  good  care  to  keep  before  him, 
that  he  should  not  discover  that  I  was  blind.  At  that 
time  there  were  no  houses  on  the  S.  W.  side  of  Wil- 
liam-street; and  fronting  the  houses  on  the  N.  E., 
there  was  a  deep  ditch,  which  served  as  a  receptacle 
for  all  the  nuisances  of  the  neighbourhood.  As  the 
night  was  very  dark,  and  there  were  no  lamps  in  that 
direction,  his  eyes  were  of  no  service  to  him  whatever; 
consequently  he  resigned  himself  entirely  to  my  guid- 


ance.  We  had  to  cross  the  puddle  already  mentioned, 
by  six  stepping  stones ;  and  though  there  was  no 
danger  whatever  of  being  drowned,  it  was  more  than 
probable  that,  had  the  soldier  got  a  dip,  his  plight, 
on  coming  out,  would  have  been  far  different  from 
that  in  which  he  appeared  at  parade.  I  groped  with 
my  staff  for  the  first  stepping  stone,  and  getting  on 
it,  I  took  hold  of  his  hand,  and  bade  him  put  his  foot 
where  mine  was,  warning  him  at  the  same  time,  of 
the  consequence  of  not  balancing  well.  In  this  man- 
ner I  conducted  him  from  one  stone  to  another,  till 
I  landed  him  safely  on  the  opposite  side,  and  was 
highly  diverted  to  hear  him  observe,  that  my  eyes 
were  better  than  his.  I  brought  him  to  Mrs.  Tawny 's, 
and  left  him  standing  at  the  door,  while  I  went  in  to 
make  the  necessary  enquiry.  I  soon  learned  that  I 
had  guessed  right,  for  I  found  his  wife  almost  in  des- 
pair at  his  absence,  but  I  bade  her  be  of  good  cheer, 
for  I  had  brought  her  husband  to  her ;  and  so  saying, 
I  called  him  in.  His  wife  was  rejoiced  to  see  him 
again,  and  saluted  him  by  crying  out,  **  Bless  me, 
dear  Barney,  where  have  you  been  ?  I  thought  you 
were  lost!" — *' Arrah,  my  dear,  I  couldn't  find  my 
way  back,"  said  he,  *'  if  it  hadn't  been  for  this  decent 
man,  that  shewed  me  the  house."  "  And  more  shame 
for  you,"  said  the  landlady,  *^  for  you  have  your  eye- 
sight, and  yet  you  must  be  guided  to  your  lodging 
by  a  blind  man."  On  hearing  this,  they  were  both 
astonished,  and  began  heartily  to  bless  themselves. 
As  their  astonishment,  however,  subsided,  the  hospi- 
tality of  their  Irish  hearts  began  to  display  itself;  for, 
on  discovering  that  I  was  only  a  mortal  being,  and 


partook  of  the  same  nature  and  appetites  as  them- 
selves, I  was  cordially  pressed  to  stay  and  partake  of 
the  fare,  that  Barney,  in  all  his  peregrinations  through 
the  streets,  had  taken  good  care  to  bring  safely  to  his 
wife.  I,  however,  declined  the  kind  offer,  and  left  them 
to  drink  their  tea  themselves,  and  enjoy  the  happiness 
that  succeeds,  when  groundless  fears  and  trivial  dis- 
appointments have  vanished  away. 

At  this  time  the  French  Revolution  gave  a  sudden 
turn  to  the  posture  of  affairs  in  Europe,  and  every 
mail  which  arrived  brought  an  account  of  some  im- 
portant change  in  the  political  state  of  that  unhappy 
country.  All  the  powers  on  the  Continent  now  armed 
against  France,  and  she,  on  her  part,  received  them 
with  a  firmness  which  reflected  honour  upon  her  arms. 
The  public  mind  at  this  period  was  agitated,  and  the 
wisest  politicians  of  the  day  were  filled  with  alarm, 
and  dreaded  the  consequences  which  were  likely  to 
result,  from  a  revolution  that  threatened  every  govern- 
ment in  Europe  with  a  total  overthrow.  For  my  part, 
I  had  little  to  lose  as  an  individual,  and  the  only 
concern  I  felt  was  for  the  safety  of  my  country ;  poli- 
tics therefore  became  my  favourite  study,  and  I  soon 
got  acquainted  with  the  passing  news  of  the  day. 

A  late  writer,  in  speaking  of  memory,  calls  it  "  the 
storehouse  of  the  mind  ;"  but  it  has  often  been  com- 
pared to  a  well-constructed  arch,  on  which  the  more 
weight  is  laid,  the  stronger  it  becomes.  This  I  found 
to  be  the  case  with  mine,  for  the  more  I  committed 
to  it,  the  more  I  found  it  was  capable  of  receiving  and 
retaining.  In  what  manner  ideas  of  extrinsic  objects, 
and  notions  of  certain  relations,  can  be  preserved  in 

OF   THE    AUTHOR.  XXXlll, 

the  mind,  it  is  impossible  to  determine ;  but  we  are 
sure  that  the  thing  is  so,  though  the  manner  be  un- 
known to  us.  As  ideas  and  recollections  are  merely 
immaterial  things,  which  can  in  no  wise  partake  of 
the  known  properties  of  matter,  so,  the  receptacle  in 
which  they  are  lodged,  must  be  of  a  similar  nature. 
That  matter  and  spirit  are  united,  we  have  no  reason 
to  doubt ;  for  the  pleasures  of  memory,  in  the  mo- 
ment of  reflection,  are  evidently  operative  on  the  body, 
inasmuch  as  its  motions  and  gestures  are  expressive  of 
the  inward  feelings  of  the  mind.  As  the  memory, 
therefore,  is  more  or  less  capacious,  as  the  store  of 
ideas  laid  up  there  is  greater  or  less,  and  as  they  are 
pleasing  or  unpleasing  in  themselves,  so  the  impres- 
sions derived  from  memory,  are  either  powerful  or  weak 
either  pleasing  or  painful.  As  my  taste  always  in- 
clined to  literature,  and  the  knowledge  of  things  val- 
uable in  themselves,  the  remembrance  of  them  is, 
consequently,  a  never  failing  source  of  amusement  to 
me,  whether  I  be  found  '^  in  the  void  waste,  or  in  the 
city  full." 

"  Oh,  Memory  !  how  pure,  how  exquisite  are  thy  pleasures  ' 
"  To  thee,  and  to  thy  sister  Hope,  the  bright  handmaids  who 
*'  support  us  through  the  rude  path  of  existence,  how  deeply 
"are  all  men  indebted!" 

It  was  now,  indeed,  that  I  was  able  to  appreciate 
the  pleasures  of  memory  in  a  superior  degree ,  for  I 
knew  the  names,  stations,  and  Admirals,  of  almost 
all  the  ships  in  the  navy,  and  was  also  acquainted 
with  the  number,  facing,  and  name  of  every  regiment 
in  the  army,  according  to  the  respective  towns,  cities, 
or  shires  from  which  they  were  raised.  I  served,  of 
course,  as  an  Army  and  Navy  List  for  the  poor  in 


the  neighbourhood,  who  had  relations  in  either  of 
these  departments,  and  was  capable  of  informing 
them  of  all  the  general  news. 

The  following  anecdote  shews  the  powers  of  my 
memory  at  that  period.  Being  invited  by  a  friend 
to  spend  an  evening  at  his  house,  I  had  scarcely  sat 
down  when  three  gentlemen  entered ;  and  the  con- 
versation turning  on  the  news  of  the  day,  I  was  re- 
quested by  my  friend  to  repeat  the  names  of  as  many 
of  the  ships  of  the  British  navy  as  I  could  recollect, 
teUing  me  at  the  same  time  that  he  had  a  particular 
reason  for  making  the  request.  I  commenced,  and 
my  friend  marked  them  down  as  I  w^ent  along,  until 
I  had  repeated  620,  when  he  stopped  me,  saying  I 
had  gone  far  enough.  The  cause  of  the  request  was 
then  explained.  One  of  the  gentlemen  had  wagered 
a  supper  that  I  could  not  mention  500 ;  he,  however, 
expressed  himself  much  pleased  at  his  loss,  having 
been,  as  he  acknowledged,  highly  entertained  by  the 

Although,  at  this  time,  I  had  little  relish  for  any 
other  kind  of  reading  but  newspapers  and  novels,  yet 
I  was  not  wholly  insensible  to  the  charms  of  poetry. 
I  amused  myself  with  making  verses  at  intervals,  but 
I  could  never  produce  any  thing  in  that  way  which 
pleased  myself.  My  acquaintances,  particularly  the 
young  people,  gave  me  sufficient  employment  in  com- 
posing epigrams,  love  songs,  epistles  and  acrostics,  in 
praise  of  their  sweet-hearts.  Many  of  those  juve- 
nile productions  are  still  extant,  and  though  miser- 
able in  themselves,  continue  to  find  admirers  among 
the  classes  for  whom  they  were  composed. 


The  first  of  my  productions  which  met  the  public 
eye,  was  ''  An  Elegy  on  the  death  of  an  unfortunate 
Female."  This  poor  maniac  was  known  for  more  than 
twenty  years  in  the  neighbouriiood  of  Belfast,  by  the 
appellation  of  Mad  Mary,  and  was  at  last  found  dead 
in  the  ruins  of  an  old  Louse,  where  she  had  taken 
refuge  during  a  stormy  winter  night.  This  little 
piece  being  much  noticed,  on  account  of  the  subject 
having  excited  a  general  interest,  I  was  advised  to  col- 
lect my  best  productions,  and  give  them  to  the  public. 
Encouraged  by  the  patronage  of  a  few  generous  indi- 
viduals, I  set  about  the  work,  which  in  a  few  months 
made  its  appearance. 

I  will  now,  for  the  amusement  of  my  readers,  in- 
sert a  few  extracts  from  this  little  collection. 

Ah  !  you,  who  sport  in  pleasure's  morn, 

Who  ne'er  have  felt  a  pain, 
Who  never  trod  on  trouble's  thorn. 

Or  heard  affliction's  plain ; 

And  you,  whom  Heav'n  has  doubly  bless'd 

With  light— Oh,  gift  divine  ! 
And  whom  misfortunes  never  press'd 

With  misery's  sons  to  join  : 

Ah,  did  you  know  what  others  feel, 

Beneath  the  shafts  of  woe. 
You'd  kindly  blunt  the  pointed  steel 

That's  aimed  from  sorrow's  bow. 


Oh,   glorious  orb  !  thy  genial  rays 
Promote  and  renovate  my  lays ; 
Though  HE,  who  gave  thee  all  thy  charms, 
Has  folded  me  in  darkness'  arms. 



But  on  that  day  when  thou  shalt  shine 
No  more,  in  native  beams  divine  ; 
When  Erin's  self,  my  muse's  pride, 
Shall  be  o'erwhelmed  in  ruin's  tide; 
And  mankind  summoned  from  the  tomb 
To  hear  their  everlasting  doom ; 
The  veil  that  now  enshrouds  my  eyes 
From  viewing  thee  and  ambient  skies, 
Shall  be  withdrawn,  while  fulgent  day 
Shall  o'er  my  eye-balls  lambent  play. 


Come  Memory,  and  paint  those  scenes 

I  knew  when  I  was  young, 
When  meadows  bloomed,  and  vernal  greens. 

By  Nature's  band  were  sung ; 

I  mean  those  hours  which  I  have  known, 
Ere  light  from  me  withdrew — 

When  blossoms  seemed  just  newly  blown, 
And  wet  with  sparkling  dew. 

Yet,  ah  !    forbear,  kind  ISIemory  cease 

The  picture  thus  to  scan  ! 
Let  all  my  feelings  rest  in  peace, 

'Tis   prudence'  better  plan ; 

For  why  should  I  on  other  days. 

With  such  reflections  turn, 
Since  I'm  deprived  of  vision's  rays. 

Which  sadly  makes  me  mourn  ! 

And  when  I  backward  turn  my  mind, 

I  feel  of  sorrow's  pain, 
And  weep  for  joys  I  left  behind. 

On  childhood's  flowery  plain; 

Yet  now,  through  intellectual  eyes, 

Upon  a  happier  shore, 
And  circled  with  eternal  skies. 

Youth  sweetly  smiles  once  more. 


Futurity  displays  the  scene, 

Religion  lends  her  aid, 
And  decks  with  flowers  for  ever  green, 

And  blooms  that  ne'er  can  fade. 

Ob,  happy  time  !  when  will  it  come. 

That  I  shall  quit  this  sphere, 
And  find  an  everlasting  home, 

With  peace  and  friendship  there  ? 

Throughout  this  chequered  life  'tis  mine 

To  feel  affliction's  rod, 
But  soon  I'll  overstep  the  line 

That  keeps  me  from  my  God. 


Night  o'er  the  sky  her  sable  mantle  spread, 

And  all  around  was  hushed  in  sweet  repose, 

Nor  silence  suffered  from  intrusive  noise; — 

Save  now  and  then,  the  Owl's  uupleasing  scream, 

From  yon  old  pile  of  ancient  grandeur  sent, 

Broke  in,  obtrusive  on  the  tranquil  hours  j 

Reflection  took  my  mind,  and  o'er  my  thoughts 

Unnumbered  visions  flit  with  rapid  speed; 

I  thought  on  man.  and  all  his  childless  joys, 

From  rosy  infancy  to  palsied  age — 

And  oft  the  sigh  of  recollection  stole 

Then  heaved  my  breast  with  sorrow's  poignant  throb; 

For  ah  !  I  feel  what  some  have  never  felt, 

That  is,  to  be  in  one  continued  night. 

From  January's  sun,  till  dark  December's  eve; 

And  strange  it  is,  when  sleep  commands  to  rest, 

While  gloomy  darkness  spreads  her  lurid  veil. 

That  then  by  being  blind,  I  suffer  most ! 

O  sight !  what  art  thou  ?  were  my  final  words, 

When  sleep  with  leaden  fingers  sealed  my  eyes. — 

Now  free  from  care,  and  tumult's  torturing  din, 

Young  fancy  led  me  from  my  bumble  cot ; 



And  far  through  space,  where  suns  unnumbered  bum, 
I  with  her  took  a  grand  excursive  flight, 
Then  back  again  to  Erin's  hills  of  green, 
I  with  her  wandered;  nor  did  night,  nor  gloom, 
One  step  intrude  to  shade  the  prospects  round. 
I  saw  sweet  Scarvagh,  in  her  loveliest  garb. 
And  all  her  trees  in  summer's  dress  were  clad  ; 
Her  honoured  mansion,  seat  of  peace  and  love. 
Gave  rapture  to  my  breast,  for  there  I've  found 
True  hospitality,  which  once  did  grace 
The  halls  of  Erin's  chiefs  of  old  ; — 
But  soon,  alas  !  the  hum  of  nightly  bands, 
And  vagrants,  strolling  on  in  quest  of  sin, 
Bore  fancy  from  me  with  her  golden  train. 
And  once  more  left  me  in  the  folds  of  night. 

You  from  whose  eyes  the  tender  tear, 
Can  gently  drop  for  human  woe, 

Oh  !  pour  your  soft  compassion  here. 
And  here  your  generous  boon  bestow. 

Ah  !  you  whom  sympathy  has  blest, 

Whose  hearts  with  pure  devotion  bum. 
To  you,  of  fortune's  gifts  possest, 

Those  sightless  orbs  imploring  turn. 

For  them  the  morning's  rosy  light. 

In  vain  the  glowing  east  o'erspreadsj 
For  them  the  empress  of  the  night. 

In  vain  her  silv'ry  lustre  sheds. 

In  vain  the  twilight  shade  descends. 

In  magic  softness,  pure,  serene. 
In  vain  the  star  of  evening  blends 

Its  dewy  light  to  gild  the  scene. 
O  think  what  joys  to  you  are  giv'n, 

Which  they  must  never  hope  to  share, 
To  view  the  bright  expanse  of  heaven. 

While  sweet  emotion  speaks  in  prayer. 


Be  yours,  with  liberal  hand,  to  prove 

The  feelings  of  a  grateful  mind, 
Be  yours,  by  acts  of  pious  love, 

To  soothe  the  sorrows  of  the  blind. 

Be  yours,  to  speak  the  Saviour's  name, 

To  hearts  that  catch  the  joyful  sound, 
To  kindle  pure  devotion's  flame, 

And  shed  immortal  glory  round. 

Thus  when  the  veil  of  darkness  spread, 
In  all  the  gloom  of  endless  night,— 
"  Let  there  be  light,"  Jehovah  said, 
Creation  heard,  and  all  was  light. 
On  the  above  passages  the  reader  is  left  to  com- 
ment as  he  thinks  proper.     Composed   by  one  des- 
titute of  sight,  of  learning,  and  even  of  an  intelligent 
friend  who  could  conect  my  compositions,  they  must, 
of  course,  stand  very  low  in  the  scale  of  merit.     Still, 
however,  they  were  of  service  to  me,  and  I  found  the 
public  rather  disposed   to  pity,  than  to  censure,  an 
bumble  individual  so  far  beneath  the  notice  of  the 

Lord  Coniwallis,  who  succeeded  Earl  Camden  in 
the  vice  royalty  of  Ireland,  in  making  the  tour  of 
that  kingdom  in  1799,  arrived  at  Belfast.  This  ap- 
pearing a  favourable  opportunity,  I  was  determined 
to  petition  his  Excellency,  in  relation  to  the  losses 
of  my  family  in  America.  A  petition  was  accordingly 
drawn  up,  stating  my  father's  possessions  in  that 
country,  his  services  in  the  army,  and  his  death  on 
his  passage  returning  to  Europe,  as  already  related. 
This  petition  I  put  iuto  the  hands  of  the  late  George 
Joy,  Esq.,  who  kindly  offered  to  present  it,  and  bade 
me  call  on  him  next  day  ;  I  did  so,  but,  to  ujy  utter 


disappointment,  I  found  that  Mr.  Joy,  on  dressing  for 
dinner  the  preceding  evening,  had  unfortunately  for- 
gotten my  petition,  and  had  left  it  in  the  pocket  of 
the  coat  which  he  had  worn  in  the  morning.  Again 
I  was  to  feel  the  bitter  pang  of  disappointment ;  for, 
on  arriving  at  Annadale,  I  was  informed  that  his 
Excellency  had,  a  few  hours  before,  left  that  place 
for  Dublin.  This  terminated  the  only  hope  I  ever 
had  of  obtaining  an  independence ;  but,  as  there  was 
no  use  in  repining,  I  endeavoured  to  submit  to  the 
disappointment  with  resignation. 

At  this  time  I  turned  my  attention  to  a  new  occu 
pation,  and  fixed  on  that  of  an  itinerant  dealer ;  for 
this  purpose  I  borrowed  a  few  pounds  from  a  friend, 
with  which  I  purchased  a  stock  of  such  hardware  arti- 
cles as  might  suit  the  country  people. 

"  Being  at  the  bottom  of  fortune's  wheel,  every 
new  revolution  might  raise  me,  but  could  not  possibly 
depress  me  lower ;"  and  hence  I  commenced  my  per- 
egrinations in  the  country.  While  employed  in  this 
way,  I  had  an  opportunity  of  meeting  with  a  variety 
of  characters,  and  of  mingling  in  different  societies. 
It  is  but  justice  here  to  remark,  that  among  the  pea- 
santry of  Ulster,  I  have  met  with  many  individuals 
whose  good  nature,  benevolent  dispositions,  and  kind 
hospitality,  were  not  only  an  honour  to  their  country, 
but  even  to  human  nature. 

While  vending  my  hardware  through  the  country, 
I  found  the  occupation  ill-suited  to  my  circumstances; 
I  was  exposed  to  many  inconveniences,  and  experi- 
enced much  fatigue  and  distress,  both  of  body  and 
mind.    The  want  of  sight  made  it  difficult  for  me  to 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  xU. 

Steer  my  course  aright,  and  I  was  often  exposed  both 
to  hardships  and  danger.  Many  a  time  have  I  heard 
the  thunder  roll  over  my  head,  and  felt  the  teeming 
rain  drench  me  from  head  to  foot,  while  I  have  un- 
knowingly passed  by  a  place  of  shelter,  or  stood  Hke 
a  statue,  not  knowing  which  way  to  turn  though  within 
a  few  paces  of  a  house.  Still,  however,  while  reflec- 
ting on  all  these  circumstances,  and  on  the  sympathy 
which  I  was  sure  to  meet  with  after  my  sufferings, 
I  have  been  often  led  to  conclude  that  the  balance 
was  in  my  favour,  when  compared  with  many  who  en- 
joyed the  use  of  every  sense ;  there  is  no  rose  with- 
out its  thorn,  neither  is  there  any  state  without  its 
comforts.  While  travelling,  I  was  in  little  danger 
from  horses  and  carriages  in  motion,  as  the  noise 
warned  me  of  their  approach  ;  hence,  if  I  was  injured, 
it  was  generally  from  something  at  rest.  It  may  be 
imagined,  however,  that  I  was  not  much  exposed  to 
harm  in  the  day-time,  nor  will  it  be  supposed  that 
any  person  could  be  so  cruel  as  intentionally  to  injure 
a  blind  man  ;  yet  I  have  suffered  repeatedly  from  the 
intemperance  of  some,  and  the  brutality  of  others ; 
and,  had  I  trusted  entirely  to  the  good  nature  of  the 
multitude,  I  might  have  been  ridden  down  oftener 
than  the  humane  mind  would  be  willing  to  suppose. 

In  the  early  part  of  my  life,  I  prided  myself  much 
on  my  activity  as  a  pedestrian.  I  have  frequently 
travelled  through  a  part  of  the  country  with  which  I 
was  totally  unacquainted,  at  the  rate  of  thirty  miles  in 
a  day ;  but  this  was  only  in  case  of  emergency,  for 
my  usual  rate  was  fifteen  to  twenty  miles  per  day ; 
this,  however,  is  too  much  for  a  person  in  my  situa- 

Xlii.  THE   LIFE 

tion,  for  supposing  a  blind  man  sets  out  to  travel 
alone  on  foot,  to  a  distance  of  twenty  miles,  he  will 
experience  much  more  fatigue,  and   go  over  more 
gi-ound  than  one  will  do  who  has  his  sight,  in  a  jour- 
ney of  twice  that  length.     This  is  evident,  from  the 
zig-zag  manner  in  which  he  traverses  the  road,  and 
as  Hammond  says,  in  his  description  of  the  drunken 
man  staggering  home,  "from  the  serpentine  manner 
in  which  he  goes,  he  makes  as  much  of  a  mile  as 
possible."  In  the  summer  time,  the  blind  man  is  sub- 
ject to  shock  his  whole  frame,  by  trampling  in  the 
cart  ruts  that  are  dried  upon  the  road,  and  in  the 
winter,  he  travels  through  thick  and  thin  ;  it  is  im- 
possible for  him  to  choose  his  steps,  and  at  that  season 
of  the  year  the  water  is  collected  into  puddles,  which 
he  cannot  avoid;  and  hence,  in  walking  to  a  distance, 
he  is  sure  to  wet  both  his  feet  and  legs,  which  is  not 
only  disagi-eeable  but  frequently  injurious  to  the  health. 
At  one  time  he  bruises  his  foot  against  a  stone  ;  at  ano- 
ther he  sprains  his  ankle;  and  frequently,  when  step- 
ping out  quickly,  his  foot  comes  in  contact  with  some- 
thing unexpectedly,  by  which  he  is  thrown  on  his  face. 
Thus,  in  travelling  on  foot,  he  labours  under  various 
disadvantages,  unknown  to  those  who  are  blest  with 
the  sense  of  sight. 

The  above  accidents,  however,  are  not  the  only 
misfortunes  connected  with  the  state  of  the  blind;  in 
walking  alone,  he  often  wanders  out  of  his  direct  way, 
sometimes  into  fields,  and  sometimes  into  bye- 
paths,  so  that  the  greater  part  of  the  day  may  be  spent 
before  he  can  rectify  his  mistake.  Often  have  I  been 
in  this  predicament  myself,  and  frequently  have  I  sat 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  xlui. 

a  considerable  part  of  the  clay,  listening  by  the  way- 
side for  a  passing  foot,  or  the  joyful  sound  of  the  hu- 
man voice  ;  and  sometimes  I  have  been  obliged  in  the 
evening,  to  retrace  the  ground  I  had  gone  over  in  the 
morning,  and  thus  endured  much  fatigue  of  body  and 
mind  before  I  could  regain  the  road  from  which  I 
wandered.  How  different  then  is  my  situation  from 
his  who  has  his  sight  ?  From  the  impediments  which 
cause  me  so  much  pain  he  is  happily  exempt;  while 
he  pursues  his  journey  he  can  trace  the  various  beau- 
ties of  the  surrounding  scenery  ;  the  picturesque  land- 
scape, the  spreading  oak,  the  flowing  brook,  the 
towering  mountain  that  hides  its  blue  summit  in  the 
clouds,  the  majestic  ocean  dashing  on  the  'shelly 
shore,'  and  the  vast  expansive  arch  of  heaven,  bespan- 
gled with  innumerable  stars,  have  all,  for  him,  their 
respective  beauties,  and  fail  not  to  awaken  pleasing 
and  agreeable  reflections  ;  but  to  the  blind,  these  plea- 
sures are  unknown,  the  charms  of  nature  are  concealed 
under  an  impenetrable  veil,  and  the  God  of  light  has 
placed  between  him  and  silent,  but  animated  nature, 
an  insuperable  barrier. 

"  While  to  the  breezy  upland  led, 

At  noon,  or  blushing  eve,  or  mom, 
He  hears  the  red-breast  o'er  his  head, 

While  round  him  breathes  the  scented  thorn; 
But  oh  !  instead  of  Nature's  face, 

Hills,  dales,  and  woods,  and  streams  combined; 
Instead  of  tints,  and  forms,  and  grace. 

Night's  blackest  mantle  shrouds  the  blind." 
A  blind  person  always  inclines  to  the  hand  in  which 
his  staff  is  carried,  and  this  often  has  a  tendency  to 
lead  him  astray,   when  he  travels   on  a  road  with 

Xliv.  THE    LIFE 

which  he  is  unacquainted.  But  were  there  no  danger 
arising  from  this,  still,  from  his  situation,  he  is  liable 
to  imminent  dangers  on  his  way,  from  which  nothing 
can  preserve  him  but  an  all-directing  providence ;  and 
this  I  have  frequently  experienced. 

In  a  cold  winter  evening,  as  I  travelled  to  Lisbum, 
I  happened  to  wander  from  the  direct  road  into  a  lane, 
which  led  immediately  to  the  canal.  Uuconscious  of 
the  danger  to  which  I  was  exposed,  I  was  stepping  on 
pretty  freely,  when  my  attention  was  suddenly  ar- 
rested b}  a  cry  of''  Stop  !  Stop  !"  Of  the  first  and 
second  call  I  took  no  notice,  as  I  judged  some  other 
person  was  addressed ;  but  at  the  third  warning  I  stop- 
ped, when  a  woman  came  running  up  almost  breath- 
less, and  asked  me,  where  I  was  going ;  I  replied, 
"ToLisburn."  ''No,"  said  she,  "you  are  going  di- 
rectly to  the  canal,  and  three  or  four  steps  more 
would  have  plunged  you  into  it."  My  heart  glowed 
with  thankfulness  to  the  all- wise  Disposer  of  events, 
and  to  the  woman  who  was  made  the  instrument  of 
my  preservation.  She  said,  she  happened  to  come  to 
the  door  to  throw  out  some  slops,  when  she  saw  me 
posting  on  ;  and  thinking,  from  my  manner  of  walk- 
ing, that  I  was  intoxicated,  she  became  alarmed  for 
my  safety,  as  a  person  had  been  drowned  in  the  very 
same  place,  not  many  days  before. 

About  three  miles  from  Strabane,  at  the  little  vil- 
lage of  Clady,  there  is  a  bridge  across  the  Finn.  I 
had  just  passed  along  it  on  my  way  to  Strabane,  when 
a  man  enquired  if  I  had  been  conducted  over  by  any 
person;  I  replied  in  the  negative.  "  It  was  a  fortu- 
nate circumstance  then,  indeed,"  said  he,  "  that  you 

OF   THE    AUTHOR.  xlv. 

kept  the  left  side,  for  the  wall  is  broken  down  at  the 
right  side,  just  above  the  centre  arch,  and  the  river 
is  there  very  rapid,  and  the  bank  on  each  side  steep. 
Had  you  fallen  in,  you  must  have  been  inevitably 

The  following  instance  of  Providential  preservation 
is  still  more  singular  than  either  of  the  preceding. 
From  Ballymena,  I  was  one  day  going  out  to  the 
Rev.  Robert  Stewart's.  At  the  end  of  the  town  the 
road  divides,  one  branch  leads  to  Ballymena,  and  the 
other  to  Broughshane.  In  the  forks,  an  old  well  was 
opened  for  the  purpose  of  sinking  a  pump.  It  being 
two  o'clock  in  the  day,  the  workmen  were  all  at  dinner, 
and  I  was  groping  about  with  my  staff  to  ascertain  the 
turn  of  the  road,  when  a  man  bawled  out  to  me,  to 
stand  still,  and  not  move  a  single  step.  I  did  so, 
when  he  came  forward  and  told  me,  that  two  steps 
more  would  have  hurried  me  into  a  well  eighty  feet 
deep,  and  half  full  of  water.  He  held  me  by  the  arm, 
and  made  me  put  forth  my  staff  to  feel  and  be  con- 
vinced of  my  danger;  when  I  found  that  I  was  actually 
not  more  than  one  yard  from  the  edge,  the  blood  ran 
cold  in  my  veins  ;  I  was  scarcely  able  to  stand  erect — 

"  And  every  limb,  unstrung,  with  terror  shook." 
These   are  but  a  few  of  the  numerous  instances  of 
hair-breadth  escapes,  which  I  have  experienced  in  my 
peregrinations  through  life. 

When  in  the  slippery  paths  of  youth, 
With  heedless  steps  1  ran, 

Thine  arm,  unseen,  conveyed  me  safe, 
And  led  me  up  to  man. 
In  the  year   1800,  there  was  an  institution  esta- 
blished in  Belfast,  for  the  purpose  of  instructing  those 

xlvi.  THE   LIFE 

who  were  deprived  of  sight,  in  such  employments  as 
were  suited  to  their  unfortunate  situation ;  it  was 
styled,  "  The  Asylum  for  the  Blind."  As  it  is  of 
vast  importance  to  the  well-being  of  society,  that  all 
who  have  not  independent  fortunes  should  be  enabled 
to  support  themselves  by  their  own  industry,  for, 
which  the  blind  are  seldom  qualified,  owing  to  iheir  un- 
happy state,  and  the  want  of  a  suitable  education, 
tliis  Asylum  promised  to  be  of  the  greatest  utility. 
I  was  entered  on  the  books  of  the  Institution  as  an 
apprentice,  and  continued  in  it,  until  within  a  few 
months  of  its  dissolution.  When  I  left  the  Asylum, 
I  proposed  working  on  my  own  account,  and  having 
acquired  a  partial  knowledge  of  the  upholstery  business 
I  was  soon  employed.  JNIy  friends  exerted  themselves 
on  this  occasion  to  promote  my  interest,  and  though 
there  were  several  individuals  who  had  learned  the 
business  in  the  same  Asylum,  and  who  could  work 
better  than  I,  yet  I  generally  had  the  preference. 
Many  of  my  friends  went  so  far  as  even  to  contrive 
work  for  me,  for  which  they  had  not  immediate  use, 
merely  to  keep  me  employed.  Akliough  my  pecu- 
niary circumstances  were  not  much  improved,  yet, 
I  now  experienced  a  greater  share  of  happiness  than 
I  had  ever  enjoyed  before.  I  was  in  a  situation  that 
afforded  me  better  opportunities  of  acquiring  know- 
ledge than  I  had  ever  possessed,  previously  to  this  time 
I  also  met  with  much  friendship  from  many  to  whom 
I  was  but  very  little  known  ;  and  when  it  was  under- 
stood that  I  was  desirous  of  information,  I  generally 
received  assistance  in  this  way,  even  where  I  could 
not  have  expected  it ;  either  the  lady  of  the  house  in 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  xlvii. 

which  I  was  employed,  or  one  of  the  children,  gen- 
erally read  to  me  while  I  was  at  work.  Thus  I  im- 
proved my  mind,  while  labouring  for  my  support ; 
time  glided  pleasantly  away,  no  room  being  left  for 
idle  speculations  or  gloomy  forebodings. 

In  1803,  a  number  of  young  men  formed  a  Read- 
ing Society  in  Belfast,  and,  although  they  were  all 
mechanics,  yet  some  of  them  were  also  men  of  taste, 
and  possessed  considerable  talents.  Into  this  society 
I  was  admitted  a  member,  at  the  same  time  that  I 
was  kindly  exempted  from  the  expense  attending  its 
regulations.  One  of  the  members  was  a  man  of  the 
most  extraordinary  character  I  had  ever  known  ;  and, 
therefore,  I  attached  myself  to  him.  To  good-nature, 
he  united  an  original  genius,  good  taste,  and  great 
sensibility ;  and,  had  an  early  education  been  his  lot, 
or  had  his  mind  been  sufficiently  expanded  by  stiidy, 
he  would  have  become  an  ornament  to  society ;  but 
be  was  totally  devoid  of  ambition,  and  never  had  a 
wish  to  rise  above  the  rank  of  an  humble  mechanic. 
This  man  proposed  to  read  to  me,  if  I  would  procure 
books  ;  our  stated  time  for  this  employment  was  from 
nine  o'clock  in  the  evening  until  one  in  the  morning, 
in  the  winter  season,  and  from  seven  until  eleven,  in 
the  summer;  when  I  was  not  particularly  engaged, 
I  frequently  attended  him  at  other  intervals.  At  break- 
fast he  had  half  an  hour  allotted  to  him,  at  dinner  a 
whole  hour,  and  every  minute  of  this  was  filled  up, 
for  he  generally  read  to  me  between  every  cup  of  tea. 
By  this  means,  I  committed  to  memory  a  vast  collec- 
tion of  pieces,  both  in  prose  and  verse,  which  I  still 
retain,  and  which  have  been,  until  the  present  hour, 

xlviii.  THE    LIFE 

a  never-failing  source  of  amusement  to  me.  The 
more  I  heard  read,  the  more  my  desire  for  knowledge 
increased,  while  I  learned,  at  the  same  time,  that 
"  the  more  a  man  knows,  he  finds  he  knows  the  less." 
So  ardent  and  steady  was  my  desire  for  knowledge 
at  that  time,  that  T  could  never  hear  to  he  absent  a 
shigle  night  from  my  friend  ;  and  often,  when  walking 
in  the  country,  where  I  could  have  been  comfortably 
accommodated,  I  have  travelled  three  or  four  miles, 
in  a  severe  winter  night,  to  be  at  my  post  in  time. 
Pinched  with  cold,  and  drenched  with  rain,  I  have 
many  a  time  sat  down  and  listened  for  several  hours 
together,  to  the  writings  of  Plutarch,  Rollin,  or  Cla- 
rendon. For  seven  or  eight  years  we  continued  this 
course  of  reading ;  but  to  give  a  catalogue  of  the  au- 
thors we  perused  in  that  time,  would  be  foreign  to  my 
present  purpose  :  suffice  it  to  say,  that  every  book  in 
the  English  language,  which  we  could  procure,  was 
read  with  avidity.  Ancient  and  IVIodern  History, 
Poetry,  Biography,  Essays,  Magazines,  Voyages, 
Travels,  &c.  were  among  our  studies. 

I  continued,  occasionally,  to  compose  some  pieces 
of  poetry  consisting,  principally,  of  songs,  written  on 
the  wit  and  good  humour  that  prevailed  in  the  club 
of  which  I  was  a  member,  with  a  few  prologues  to 
plays  that  were  performed  by  the  young  men  in  the 
neighbourhood,  for  charitable  purposes.  These  I 
collected  together  to  prepare  them  for  the  press,  but, 
on  examination,  I  found  they  had  many  faults,  which 
had  at  first  escaped  my  notice ;  and  though  warml}' 
urged  by  my  friends  to  give  them  to  the  public,  yet 
I  was  so  well  convinced  they  were  destitute  of  merit. 

OF    THE    AUTHOK.  xlix. 

that  I  committed  them  to  the  flames,  with  the  first 
two  acts  of  a  play,  called  *'  The  Irish  Exile's  Return." 
The  person  to  whom  I  had  entrusted  the  manage- 
ment of  my  little  domestic  conceiTis,  did  not  hesitate 
to  take  advantage  of  my  ignorance  of  such  affairs,  as 
well  as  of  my  situation.     Many  of  my  friends  felt  for 
me,  and  strongly  advised  me  to  marry,  as  I  should 
be  more  comfortable,  and  be  out  of  the  power  of  such 
unprincipled  people.     They   said,  that  could  I  meet 
with  a  sober  steady  woman,  who  would  be  likely  to 
make  a  good  wife,  the  change  would  be  advantageous 
to  me  in  more  respects  than  one.     I  objected  to  this 
proposal,   on    the  ground  of  my  inability  to  provide 
for  a  family ;  the  precarious  manner  of  earning  my  sub- 
sistence put  such  a  change  beyond  my  expectation — 
it  was  enough  for  me  to  suffer  alone — I  could  not 
think  of  entailing  misery  upon  others.     This  they 
could  not  deny,  but  they  then  reasoned  in  this  way  : 
no  one  required  the  kind  assistance  of  an  affectionate 
wife  more  than  a  blind  man :  that  I  had  not  one 
friend,  one  relative  to  look  after  me — what  then  would 
become  of  me  in  my  old  age  ?     I  should  be  helpless 
in  the  extreme.     These,  and  many  other  arguments, 
were  used,  to  induce  me  to  assent  to  a  measure  which 
they  thought  would  finally  conduce  to  my  happiness. 
Their  anticipations  have  since  been  fully  realized — I 
am  happy.     I  had  the  pleasure  of  being  known,  for 
some  time,   to   a  young   woman    who  lived  in  the 
neighbourhood ;  having  met  her  occasionally  at  the 
house  of  a  friend,  whom  I  used  to  visit.     Her  plain 
sense  and  unassuming  manners,  recommended  her 
to  my  notice,  but  what  most  endeared  her  to  me  was 

1.  THE    LIFE 

her  filial  piety.  Her  aged  mother  and  she  lived  toge- 
ther, loved  and  respected  by  all  who  knew  them;  and 
without  any  other  dependence  than  the  \vork  of  her 
own  hands,  she  supported  herself  and  parent.  I 
thought  that  she,  who  was  such  an  attentive  and  feel- 
ing daughter,  must  necessarily  make  an  affectionate 
wife,  and  in  this  opinion  I  was  not  disappointed. 
Filial  affection  is  so  endearing  a  virtue,  that  whenever 
we  meet  with  an  instance  of  it,  whether  in  an  exalted  or 
an  humble  station,  the  exhibition  of  it  must  be,  to  the 
benevolent  mind,  a  source  of  the  highest  gratification. 
It  is  a  duty  which  our  gi-acious  and  kind  Creator  has 
enjoined  us  to  fulfil,  commanding  us  in  his  holy  word, 
"  to  honour  our  father  and  mother,"  as  an  inducement 
or  motive  to  the  performance  of  which,  he  has  pro- 
mised that  our  "  days  shall  be  long  in  the  land ;"  and 
he  who  has  promised  this,  is  able  and  willing  to 
perform  it. 

I  addressed  a  copy  of  verses  to  her,  who  had  now 
become  the  object  of  my  affection,  which  were  printed 
in  the  first  collection  of  my  Poems.  They  had  the 
desired  effect — they  produced  an  impression,  which 
never  has  been,  and  I  may  venture  to  say,  never 
will  be  effaced.  After  the  expiration  of  two  years, 
our  correspondence  happily  terminated,  and  we  were 
married  on  the  27th  of  November,  1802.  Though 
she  could  boast  of  no  high  descent,  no  shewy  ac- 
complishments, nor  of  having  brought  me  a  fortune, 
yet  she  was  possessed  of  such  qualities  as  every  vir- 
tuous mind  will  admire; — she  was  sober,  modest,  and 
\massuming ;  and  though  her  education  was  not  ac- 
cording to  the  rules  laid  down  by  Mrs.  Hamilton, 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  H. 

yet  she  understood,  in  her  own  way,  the  principles 
of  domestic  economy,  prudence,  and  frugality.  ^Yell 
has  the  wise  man  described  a  virtuous  woman,  when 
he  says  — "Who  can  find  a  virtuous  woman  ?  fur  her 
price  is  far  above  rubies." 

\V"e  have  now  lived  thirty-six  years  together,  happy 
in  each  other's  society ;  and  though  we  have  had 
many  trials  in  the  course  of  that  time,  such  as  the 
loss  of  children,  bad  health,  and  distressed  circum- 
stances, a  murmur  has  never  escaped  her  lips.  In 
our  pilgi'image  here  below,  these  little  crosses  are 
necessary — they  teach  us  to  know  ourselves.  Were 
we  to  pass  the  little  time,  which  is  allotted  to  us 
in  this  world,  without  trials  and  afflictions,  we 
should  soon  forget  that  we  are  dependent  creatures  ; 
but  a  merciful  Providence  has  wisely  guarded  us 
against  this  danger,  by  letting  us  feel  our  infirmites, 
and  how  little  we  can  do  for  ourselves.  We  are  as- 
sured in  the  word  of  God,  that  he  never  afflicts  his 
creatures  but  for  their  good,  and  when  these  visita- 
tions are  sanctified  by  his  Holy  Spirit,  they  then  be- 
come profitable  to  us —  they  wean  us  from  the  world, 
and  we  become  tired  of  its  flimsy  joys  and  imaginary 
pleasures ;  we  learn  from  them,  **  that  here  we  have 
no  abiding  city,  but  we  seek  one  to  come." 

We  have  had  eleven  children,  of  whom  four 
only  are  now  alive  ;  and,  with  the  exception  of  the 
diseases"  common  to  children,  those  living  are  all 
healthy  and  stout.  It  is  certainly  one  of  the  greatest 
blessings  which  parents  can  enjoy,  to  see  a  vigorous 
offspring  rise  around  them,  and  to  listen  to  their  in- 
nocent prattle.  How  often  have  I  been  struck  with 

lii.  THE   LIFE 

the  force  and  beauty  of  that  passage  in  holy  writ,  where 
Jesus,  in  order  to  teach  humility  to  his  disciples,  "  call- 
ed a  httle  child  unto  him,  and  set  him  in  the  midst  of 
them."  To  descend  from  the  Divine  Author  of  our 
religion  to  creatures  like  ourselves,  we  read  in  Cox's 
life  of  that  pious  reformer,  Melancthon,  that  he  was 
particularly  fond  of  his  children;  and  notwithstanding 
the  multiplicity  of  his  engagements,  the  discharge  of 
which,  in  those  perilous  times,  was  attended  with 
difficulties  and  danger,  he  would  often  descend  from 
that  lofty  station  where  genius  and  public  opinion 
had  enthroned  him,  to  the  more  endearing  scenes  of 
domestic  retirement.  A  Frenchman  one  day  found 
him  holding  a  book  in  one  hand,  and  with  the  other 
rocking  his  child's  cradle.  Upon  his  manifesting 
considerable  surprise,  Melancthon  took  occasion  from 
this  incident,  to  converse  with  his  visitor  on  the  duties 
of  parents,  and  on  the  regard  of  Heaven  for  little 
children,  in  such  a  pious  and  affectionate  manner, 
that  his  astonishment  was  quickly  transfoiTued  into 

The  first  of  my  literary  acquaintances  of  great  res- 
pectability, was  John  Lushington  Reilly,  Esq.  of 
Scarvagh,  to  whose  family  I  was  warmly  recom- 
mended, by  a  lady  who  introduced  me  as  a  lover  and 
composer  of  poetry.  In  this  gentleman's  house  I  was 
employed  for  some  time,  and  during  my  residence 
there,  was  not  treated  as  a  common  workman,  but  was 
kindly  entertained  by  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Reilly,  who  had 
the  goodness  to  read  to  me  by  turns,  whilst  I  was  at 
work  ;  and  in  their  absence,  a  person  was  appointed 
to  supply  their  place.    Here  was  a  fine  library,  where 

OP  THE   AiJTHOil.  liil. 

I  first  met  with  Spenser's  Fairy  Queen.  When  I 
left  home,  I  did  not  expect  to  remain  at  Scarvagh 
longer  than  three  or  four  weeks  at  farthest,  but 
such  was  the  partiality  of  that  worthy  family  for 
me,  that  I  was  detained  there  for  nearly  three  months. 
On  taking  leave  of  my  benefactors,  Mr.  Reilly  ob- 
served, that  I  ought  not  to  be  tired  of  them,  as  they 
were  not  tired  of  me.  To  Mr.  Reilly  I  addressed  a 
few  verses  on  his  return  from  the  army,  which  ap- 
peared in  the  second  edition  of  my  Poems.  I  had 
listened  with  much  pleasure  to  the  Treatise  on  Soli- 
tude, by  that  inimitable  philosopher,  Zimmerman  ; 
but,  although  I  had  learned  from  books  to  imagine 
the  pleasures  of  solitude,  yet  I  never  had  an  oppor- 
tunity of  experiencing  its  enjoyments,  until  my  re- 
sidence, at  that  time,  in  the  country.  Some  of  our 
busy  town's-people  shudder  at  the  idea  of  a  country 
life,  and  conclude  that  the  want  of  variety  would  ren- 
der them  miserable  in  retirement;  but  the  happiness 
of  such  is  derived  from  bustle  and  confusion — from 
sources  unstable  as  the  wind,  and  nature  is  to  them 
destitute  of  charms.  It  was  not  so  with  me ;  the  mur- 
muring of  the  streams,  the  rustling  of  the  leaves,  the 
singing  of  the  birds,  the  lowing  of  the  cattle,  and 
bleating  of  the  lambs,  each  had  for  me  its  charms,  and 
excited  in  my  mind  the  most  pleasing  sensations.  As 
nature  is  superior  to  art  in  all  her  operations,  so  are 
the  pleasures  derived  from  the  one  far  superior  to  the 
pleasures  derived  from  the  other,  and  every  man  of 
experience  will  acknowledge,  that  independently  of  re- 
ligion, there  is  not  any  thing  which  affords  such  de- 
light to  the  contemplative  mind,  as  the  worksof  crea- 

llV.  THE    LIFE 

"  By  boundless  love,  and  perfect  wisdom  formed, 
And  ever  rising  with  the  rising  mind." 

From  Scarvagh  I  went  to  Drumbanaglier,  the  seat 
of  John  Moore,  Esq.  where  I  was  employed  for  some 
time.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Moore  were  particularly  atten- 
tive to  me,  and  shewed  me  much  kindness  ;  and  after 
spending  some  time  in  a  few  other  gentlemen's  houses, 
I  returned  home. 

The  sense  of  sight  is  not  the  only  one  of  which  I 
am  deprived,  for  I  never  remember  to  have  enjoyed 
that  of  smell.  In  my  opinion,  this  sense  can  be  more 
easily  dispensed  with,  than  any  of  the  other  four.  I 
remember  a  lady  of  my  acquaintance,  who  possessed 
this  sense  so  exquisitely,  that  the  least  disagreeable 
odour  was  so  offensive,  as  to  produce  a  severe  head- 
ache ;  when  she  understood  that  I  was  destitute  of 
what  she  possessed  in  so  extraordinary  a  degree,  she 
observed  very  justly,  "  it  is  well  for  you,  for  if  you 
have  no  pleasure  from  that  source,  you  have  no  pain." 
When  spring  unfolds  itself  in  all  its  genial  influ- 
ences, it  is,  no  doubt,  pleasant  to  range  through  the 
country,  and  inhale  the  fragrance  arising  from  shrubs 
and  flowers ;  but,  on  coming  into  a  large  town  or  po- 
pulous city,  the  circumstances  are  entirely  changed, 
and  the  effluvia  arising  from  the  narrow  lanes  and 
alleys  become  exceedingly  disagreeable. 

The  improvement  of  my  mind,  by  the  acquisition 
of  useful  and  substantial  knowledge,  now  engrossed 
my  attention.  To  attain  this,  I  knew  that  books  and 
conversation  were  the  only  means,  and  therefore,  I 
carefully  cultivated  the  friendship  of  such  persons  as 
were  distinguished  by  their  taste  and  intelligence.     1 

OF   THE    AUTHOR.  Iv. 

was  very  fortunate  in  getting  acquainted  with  a  num- 
ber of  individuals,  whose  literary  acquirements  and 
love  of  virtue,  reflected  honour  on  their  names.  In 
the  society  of  such  persons,  I  could  not  fail  in  acqui- 
ring much  mental  improvement,  and  their  conversa- 
tion, remarks,  and  advice  were  of  great  use  to  me. 

It  has  been  remarked  by  an  elegant  writer,  that 
geography  is  the  eye  of  history,  the  latter  recording 
the  time,  and  the  former  the  place,  in  which  any  re- 
markable event  has  happened.  To  be  acquainted 
with  the  names,  situations,  and  boundaries  of  pla- 
ces, together  with  the  transactions  of  other  years, 
forms  now  an  essential  part  of  a  good  education.  To 
the  blind,  in  this  respect,  a  large  field  is  laid  open, 
and  if  a  good  memory  accompanies  conversation, 
and  to  hearing  history  and  geography  read,  they 
may  lay  up  a  store  that  will  not  fail,  as  a  source 
of  amusement,  both  to  themselves  and  to  others.  In 
these  two  branches  of  knowledge  I  was  very  assiduous, 
and  find,  that  to  the  present  day,  my  memory  is  ex- 
ceedingly tenacious  of  what  I  then  learned.  In  rela- 
tion to  geography,  I  became  acquainted  with  every 
place  of  note  on  the  habitable  globe,  so  that,  on  being 
examined  by  some  who  were  either  curious,  or  doubt- 
ful of  my  knowledge,  my  descriptions  have  been  found 
to  coincide  with  the  best  constructed  maps.  Respect- 
ing history,  the  reader  will  best  judge  of  the  power  of 
my  memory  by  the  following  relation. 

To  a  few  select  friends  who  wished  to  prove  my 
knowledge  of  English  history,  I  repeated,  to  their 
entire  satisfaction,  an  epitome  of  the  history  of  Eng- 

Ivi.  THE    LIFE 

land,  from  the  Norman  conquest  till  the  peace  in 
1783,  including  invasions,  conspiracies,  insurrections, 
and  revolutions ;  the  names  of  all  the  Kings  and 
Queens,  the  year  of  their  accession,  the  length  of  their 
reigns,  and  the  affinity  each  had  to  his  predecessor, 
together  with  the  names  and  characters  of  all  the 
great  statesmen,  heroes,  philosophers,  and  poets,  who 
flourished  in  the  different  reigns.  In  consequence  of 
this  and  similar  rehearsals,  I  was  termed,  "The 
Living  Book,"  and  *'A  Walking  Encyclopaedia;"  to 
others,  my  knowledge,  in  such  circumstances,  appeared 
as  a  prodigy,  but  to  myself  it  proved  a  source  of  con- 
solation, and  beguiled  many  a  tedious  hour. 

The  circle  of  my  acquaintance  was  at  this  time 
greatly  enlarged,  and  I  had  the  honour  of  ranking 
among  my  friends  some  of  the  most  distinguished 
characters  in  this  country.  Among  these  was  Dr. 
Percy,  Bishop  of  Dromore.  This  great  man  was  the 
last  of  that  illustrious  school  of  which  Johnson,  Gold- 
smith, and  Burke,  were  members ;  his  fine  taste  and 
literary  talents  were  accompanied  by  sweetness  of 
temper  and  a  benevolent  disposition.  From  the  Rev. 
H.  Boyd,  (a  gentleman  well  known  in  the  literary 
world  as  the  translator  of  the  Italian  Poet,  Dante,  and 
author  of  some  other  original  works  of  great  merit,) 
I  received  the  most  marked  attention.  His  kindness 
and  that  of  his  family,  indeed,  I  cannot  easily  forget ; 
on  several  occasions  he  has  rendered  me  very  essential 
services,  and  it  yields  me  no  small  degree  of  pleasure 
to  reflect,  that  I  still  enjoy  the  friendship  of  a  man 
as  eminently  distinguished  for  his  virtues  as  for  his 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  IvH. 

There  are  few  blind  persons  who  are  not  blessed 
with  strongly  retentive  memories,  and  added  to  this, 
tlieir  ear  is  open  to  all  the  variety  of  sweet  sounds ; 
but  the  sense  of  sight  gives  to  the  mind  a  more  ample 
range,  lays  open  the  book  of  universal  knowledge, 
which,  to  the  blind,  is  covered  over  with  an  impenetra- 
ble veil.      The  art  of  Printing,   which  has  diffused 
knowledge  to  an  extent  unknown  even  to  the  brightest 
ages  of  antiquity,  sheds  not  its  enlivening  rays  for 
their  instruction  and  amusement.     Ever  dependent  on 
the  generosity  of  others,  the  streams  of  knowledge 
flow  to  them  through  narrow  and  irregular  channels ; 
but  Providence,  in  all  things  just,  depriving  them  of 
one  perceptive  power,  seems  to  have  bestowed  addi- 
tional vigour  on  those  which  remain.     I  have  often 
experienced  much  difSculty  in  procuring  readers,  for 
it  would  have  been  unreasonable  to  expect  persons  to 
forego  their  pleasures,  or  quit  their  business,  in  order 
to  gratify  me ;  yet,  some  have  done  both,  for  my 
amusement.     Men,  however,  vary  in  their  taste  with 
respect  to  books,  as  they  do  with  regard  to  food  ;  some 
readers  can  find  no  charms  in  poetry,  others  can  find 
no  interest  in  biography,  and  some  have  a  particular 
aversion  to  books  of  a  philosophical  nature,  and  I  was, 
therefore,  necessitated  to  adopt  the  subject  which  best 
agreed  with  the  taste  of  my  readers.     From  these  cir- 
cumstances, I  was  generally  obliged  to  listen  to  two 
or  three   different  kinds  of  books  in  a  day  : — for  in- 
stance, history  before  breakfast;  natural  philosophy 
during  the  day ;  poetry  in  the  evening ;  and,  by  way 
of  dessert,  a  few  passages  from  some  of  our  sentimen- 
tal writers. 

Iviii.  THE    LIFE 

It  appears  that,  as  the  attention  of  the  blind  is  not 
diverted  by  objects  presented  to  the  sight,  they  are 
peculiarly  fitted  to  attain  perfection  in  whatever  is  con- 
veyed to  the  mind  by  oral  instruction.  Some  of  the 
best  poets  and  musicians  that  have  ever  appeared  in 
the  world,  were  men  from  whom  the  fair  face  of  na- 
ture was  shut  out,  who  never  saw  the  refulgent  sun 
dart  his  rays  through  the  opening  clouds,  tinging 
with  rosy  light  the  hills  and  plains,  and  gladdening 
all  animated  nature.  How  many  thousand  objects 
which  give  pleasure  to  the  beholder  present  themselves 
on  every  side,  but  the  rich  variety  of  colours  which 
decorates  the  ample  field  of  nature,  is  displayed  in 
vain  before  the  blind,  and  to  them  this  fair  scene  is 
shrouded  m  universal  night;  Perhaps  the  loss  of  sight 
has  never  been  described  in  more  pathetic  language 
than  by  that  master  of  sublimity,  Milton,  who  in  Para- 
dise Lost,  thus  touchingly  refers  to  his  own  melan- 
choly condition  ; — 

''  Thus  with  the  year 

"  Seasons  returu,  but  not  to  me  returns, 
"Day,  or  the  sweet  approach  of  Even  or  Morn,"  &c. 
A  friend,  at  this  time,  jDroposed  to  teach  me  English 
Grammar,  and,  in  order  to  encourage  me,  he  said  it 
would  only  require  three  weeks  or  a  month  at  most, 
and  as  soon  as  I  had  attained  a  knowledge  of  the 
English  language,  he  proposed  to  teach  me  the  French. 
But  owing  to  the  narrowness  of  my  circumstances,  I 
could  not  afford  to  devote  to  these  studies  the  time 
which  they  would  have  required.  I  had  a  large 
family  depending  on  me  for  support,  for  which  I  had 
no  other  means  of  procuring  bread  but  by  my  own  in- 
dustry, and  my  poor  wife  having  been  long  afflicted 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  Hx. 

with  bad  health,  was  unable  to  render  me  any  assist- 
ance, and  to  add  to  this,  I  was  often  employed  in  the 
country.  Had  I  then  turned  my  attention  to  these 
studies,  my  children  might  have  starved;  and  I  was 
therefore  obliged  to  decline  this  friendly  offer,  of  which 
I  was  desirous  to  avail  myself,  as  it  might  have  been 
of  much  future  advantage  to  me.  This  was  one  of  the 
greatest  sacrifices  I  ever  made.  It  is  true,  I  had  a 
few  friends,  who,  had  they  been  made  acquainted 
with  these  circumstances,  would  have  been  sorry  to 
let  me  lose  such  an  opportunity.  But  I  was  too  sensible 
of  their  kindness,  and  was  therefore  unwilling  to  make 
any  farther  claim  upon  their  bounty. 

The  state  of  my  affairs  at  this  time  wore  rather  an 
unfavourable  appearance.  The  profits  arising  from 
my  publications  were  very  small; — they  did  little 
more  than  satisfy  the  demands  of  the  printer  and 
paper  manufacturer.  I  wished  above  all  things,  to 
select  a  subject  on  which  I  could  employ  my  mind 
more  extensively  than  it  had  hitherto  been  engaged, 
and  having  devoted  much  of  my  time  to  the  study  of 
biography  ;  I  found,  on  acquaintance  with  this  useful 
branch  of  history,  that  there  were  many  in  all  ages, 
and  in  every  country,  who  had  laboured  under  the 
same  calamity  with  myself,  and  who  had  eminently 
distinguished  themselves  by  their  attainments  in  li- 
terature and  science.  I  thought,  if  these  were  collected 
together,  and  moulded  into  a  new  form,  it  might  not 
only  become  an  amusing,  but  an  useful  work,  so  far 
as  it  would  show  what  perseverance  and  industry  could 
do,  in  enabling  us  to  overcome  difficulties  apparently 
insurmountable.     It  concerned  not  me  at  what  time 


bt.  THE    LIFE 

of  life,  or  by  what  cause  they  lost  their  sight,  provi- 
ded that  they  distinguished  themselves  after  they  be- 
came blind.  My  chief  object  was  to  prove  the  energy 
of  the  human  mind,  under  one  of  the  greatest  priva- 
tions to  which  we  are  liable  in  this  life.  In  contem- 
plating the  lives  and  characters  of  these  illustrious 
individuals,  who  had  devoted  their  time  and  ap- 
plied their  talents  to  promote  the  happiness  of  their 
fellow-creatures,  we  shall  find,  that  they  have  been, 
considering  their  number,  as  usefully  employed  as 
any  class  of  men,  with  whose  works  we  are  acquainted. 
Poets,  the  foremost  in  renown,  have  been  incapable 
of  the  perception  of  external  objects.  The  two  finest 
poems  in  the  world,  the  Iliad  and  Paradise  Lost,  are 
the  immortal  productions  of  the  blind.  The  eyes  of 
Homer  and  Milton  rolled  in  vain,  and  found  no  dawn; 
yet  in  the  forcible  expression  of  the  latter,  were  their 
minds  "  inly  irradiated,"  and  they  have  sung  of  things 
invisible  to  mortal  sight.  It  has  not  been  only  in  the 
different  departments  of  literature  that  they  have  dis- 
tinguished themselves,  but  also  in  the  more  extensive 
fields  of  science  and  of  the  arts,  they  have  reaped 
honours  which  will  transmit  their  names  to  the  re- 
motest posterity.  It  was  partly  with  a  view  of  res- 
cuing my  fellow-suffers  from  the  neglect  and  obscu- 
rity in  which  many  of  them  were  enveloped,  that  I 
undertook  the  present  work — an  undertaking  attended 
with  immense  labour  and  much  research  to  one  like 
me,  which  will  readily  be  allowed,  when  it  is  con- 
sidered I  had  often  to  depend  on  the  good  nature  of 
strangers  for  such  books  as  were  necessary  to  my  pur- 
pose, and  even  for  readers  and  amanuenses.     How- 

OF    THE    AUTHOR.  Ixi. 

ever,  after  wading  through  innumerable  difficulties, 
which  nature  and  fortune  threw  in  my  way,  the  work 
made  its  appearance  in  1820,  in  one  volume  12mo. 
containing  nearly  400  pages,  closely  printed.  The 
reception  it  met  with  from  the  public  was  gratifying 
to  my  feelings,  and  far  surpassed  any  thing  I  could 
have  expected. 

A  history  of  the  blind,  by  a  blind  man,  excited  a 
good  deal  of  curiosity  among  the  reading  portion  of 
the  public,  and  called  forth  the  sympathy  of  several 
benevolent  individuals  in  favour  of  its  afflicted  author. 
I  will  conclude  my  narrative  by  inserting  the  two 
following  letters,  which  I  hope  my  friends  will  be 
pleased  with. 

Keswick,  June  30,  1834. 

I  have  read  Mr.  James  Wilson's  account  of  his  own 
life  with  much  interest ;  it  is  indeed  a  narrative  which 
may  very  properly  accompany  the  lives  of  those  per- 
sons who,  being  blind,  have  nevertheless  rendered 
themselves  remarkable  by  their  attainments,  and  there- 
by shown  how  much  may  be  performed  by  patient  and 
ingenious  industry  under  the  most  unfavourable  and 
discouraging  circumstances. 

This  testimony  is  given  in  the  hope  that  it  may 
be  useful  to  him  in  his  travels. 

Robert  Southey. 

132,  George-street,  Edinburgh, 
Monday.lOthJuly  1837. 

Dear  Sir, 

I  have  read  your  "  Life"  with  much  interest, 
and  I  may  add  instruction,  for  it  is  always  instructive 

Ixii.  THE    LIFE 

to  see  that  cheerfulness  and  contentment  are  the 
result  of  virtuous  actions,  and  that  generous  and  manly 
efforts  in  a  good  cause^  though  they  may  not  always  he 
crowned  with  what  the  world  calls  success,  never  fail, 
if  duly  persevered  in,  to  secure  that  peace  of  mind 
which  is,  after  all,  the  best  kind  of  success,  even  in  a 
worldly  point  of  view.  But  in  such  a  case  as  yours 
this  perseverance  requires  no  small  faith  in  the  princi- 
ples upon  which  it  rests. 

I  have  not  had  time  to  read  your  larger  work, 
which  my  children  have  carried  off  to  the  country, 
but  I  shall  go  through  it  with  attention,  and  I  have  no 
doubt  with  advantage  as  well  as  amusement. 

I  return  the  copy  of  the  "  Life"  which  you  were 
good  enough  to  lend  me,  and  remain. 
With  sincerest  good  wishes. 

Your  most  obed.  humble  servant, 

Basil  Hall. 

Thus  far  I  have  endeavoured  to  give  some  account 
of  myself,  but  have  been  obliged  to  omit  several  par- 
ticulars which  might  be  interesting  to  the  Reader. 
I  commit  this  narrative  to  the  indulgent  kindness  of 
my  friends,  and  shall  be  highly  gratified  to  have  the 
approbation  of  those  to  whose  generosity  and  disin- 
terestedness 1  owe  the  most  sincere  gratitude,  and  with 
these  feelings,  I  take  my  leave  of  my  friends  and  the 
public  for  the  present. 

James  Wilson. 
Birmingham,  September,  12,  1838. 



"High  on  the  first,  the  mighty  Homer  shone; 

"Eternal  adamant  composed  his  throne ; 

"  Father  of  verse,  in  holy  fillets  drest, 

"  His  silvery  beard  waved  gently  o'er  his  breast: 

"  Tho'  blind,  a  boldness  in  his  looks  appears; 

"  In  years  he  seemed,  but  not  impaired  by  years." 

The  Man,  an  account  of  whose  life  and  writings 
is  given  in  these  pages,  was  the  most  extraordinary 
genius  that  any  age  or  country  has  ever  yet  produced. 
Whether  we  view  him  as  a  Poet,  a  Philosopher,  or  an 
Historian,  he  excites  our  astonishment,  and  he  claims 
our  admiration.  Whoever  has  read  his  truly  sublime 
compositions  will  join  with  me  in  regretting  that  so 
little  is  now  known  of  his  history ;  and  we  have  to 
lament,  that  the  few  particulars  of  his  life  which  have 
been  handed  down  to  us,  are  in  such  a  mutilated  and 
imperfect  state,  that  they  can  aflford  but  little  pleasure 
to  the  admirers  of  ancient  literature.  As  many  of 
his  early  biographers  have  substituted  fiction  for  facts, 
it  is  no  easy  task  to  unravel  their  irregular  accounts, 
and  form  a  connected  story.  I  have  consulted  the 
best  writers  who  mention  him,  and  have  endeavoured 
to  select  such  parts  as  tend  to  illustrate  both  the  man 

2  THE    LIFE 

and  his  writings :  but,  alas,  after  all  my  enquiries, 
how  little  have  I  been  able  to  procure  !  The  veil 
of  time  is  now  thrown  over  both  the  author  and  the 
scene  which  called  forth  the  gigantic  powers  of  his 

"  And  now  by  Time's  deep  plough-share  harrow'd  o'er, 

"  The  seat  of  sacred  Troy  is  found  no  more : 

"  No  trace  of  all  her  glories  now  remains, 

"  But  corn  and  vines  enrich  her  cultured  plains — 

"  Silver  Scamauder  laves  the  verdant  shore; 

"  Scamander  oft  o'erflowed  with  hostile  gore." 

This  venerable  father  of  Epic  Poetry,  as  he  has 
been  justly  called,  flourished,  according  to  some  ac- 
counts, 340  years  after  the  siege  of  Troy,  and  ac- 
cording to  others,  907  years  before  the  Christian  era. 
The  place  of  his  nativity  is  not  known,  but  such  was 
the  veneration  the  Greeks  had  for  his  memory,  that 
no  less  than  seven  illustrious  cities  contended  for  the 
honour  of  his  birth,  as  is  well  expressed  in  the  follow- 
ing lines — "Smyrna,  Chios,  Colophon,  Salamis, 
Rhodos,  Argos,  Athene,  Orbis  de  Patria  certat, 
Homere,  tua." 

The  opinion,  however,  which  appears  to  have  the 
best  foundation  is,  that  he  was  born  at  Smyrna.  We 
have  not  on  record  any  thing  that  is  certain  respect- 
ing the  particulars  of  his  birth  ;  but  the  following  is 
the  only  account  that  I  have  seen,  which  can  be 
relied  upon.  A  man  of  Magnesia,  named  Mena- 
lippus,  went  to  settle  at  Cumee,  where  he  manied  the 
daughter  of  a  citizen  called  Homynes,  and  had  by 
her  a  daughter  called  Critheis.     Her  parents  dying. 

OF    HOMER.  3 

Critheis  was  left  to  the  care  of  one  Cleonus,  her 
father's  friend,  by  whom  she  was  seduced;  this  coming 
to  the  knowledge  of  her  guardian,  he  was  anxious  to 
conceal  it;  and  sent  her  to  Smynia,  which  was  then 
building*  Critheis  being  near  her  time,  went  one 
day  to  a  festival,  which  the  inhabitants  were  celebra- 
ting on  the  banks  of  the  river  Meles,*  where  the  pains 
of  labour  coming  upon  her,  she  was  delivered  of  the 
immortal  Homer;  whom,  from  that  circumstance, 
she  called  Melesigenes.  Critheis,  having  no  other 
means  of  subsistence,  was  forced  to  spin ;  but  a  man 
named  Phemius,-f-  who  taught  literature  and  music 
in  Smynia,  having  often  seen  Critheis,  and  being 
pleased  with  her  good  housewifery  and  behaviour, 
took  her  into  his  house  to  spin  the  wool  which  he  re- 
ceived from  his  scholars  for  their  schooling.  In  this 
situation  she  behaved  so  modestly  and  agreeably  that 
Phemius  married  her,  and  adopted  her  son,  in  whom 
he  discovered  early  marks  of  an  extraordinary  genius, 
enriched  by  an  excellent  natural  disposition.  After 
the  death  of  Phemius  and  Critheis,  Homer  succeeded 
his  father  in  his  school ;  and  was  admired,  not  only 
by  the  inhabitants  of  Smyrna,  but  also  by  strangers, 
who  resorted  from  all  parts  to  that  place  of  trade.     A 

*  A  river  of  Asia  Minor,  in  Ionia,  near  Smyrna.  The 
Ancients  supported  this  opinion  of  Homer's  being  born  on  its 
banks,  and  said  that  he  thence  got  the  name  of  Melesigenes, 
and  his  compositions,  Melitoea  Charta.  They  even  say  that  he 
composed  his  poems  in  a  cave  near  the  source  of  that  river. 

f  A  man  introduced  by  Homer  as  a  Musician  among  Pene- 
lope's suitors.  Some  say  he  taught  Homer,  for  which  the 
grateful  Poet  immortalized  his  name. 


4f  THE   LIFE 

person  called  Mentes,  who  traded  thither,  being  a 
man  of  learning  and  a  lover  of  poetry,  admired  him 
so  much,  that  he  requested  him  to  accompany  him  in 
his  voyages.  Homer,  who  had  then  begun  his  Iliad, 
thought  it  of  great  consequence  to  see  the  places  he 
should  have  occasion  to  mention  ;  and  therefore  em- 
braced this  opportunity,  and  embarked  with  Mentes, 
During  these  voyages,  he  passed  through  all  Greece, 
Asia  Minor,  and  many  other  places,  where  he  never 
failed  carefully  to  note  down  all  that  he  thought  wor- 
thy of  notice.  He  travelled  into  Egypt,  whence  he 
brought  into  Greece  all  the  names  of  their  gods,  the 
chief  ceremonies  of  their  religion,  and  a  more  improved 
knowledge  of  the  arts.  He  next  visited  Africa  and 
Spain :  returning  thence,  he  touched  at  Ithaca,  where 
he  was  seized  with  a  complaint  in  his  eyes.  Mentes 
being  desirous  of  returning  to  Leucas,  his  native 
country,  left  Homer  well  recommended  to  the  care 
and  protection  of  Mentor,  one  of  the  chief  men  of  the 
island,  who  took  great  care  of  him.  There  Homer 
was  informed  of  many  things  relating  to  Ulysses, 
which  he  afterwards  made  use  of  in  composing  his 
Odyssey.  On  his  return  to  Ithaca,  Mentes  found 
Homer  cured  ;  they  embarked  together,  and  after 
much  time  spent  in  visiting  the  coast  of  Pelopon- 
nesus, and  the  islands,  they  arrived  at  Colophon, 
where  he  was  again  seized  with  a  disease  in  his  eyes, 
which  proved  so  severe,  that  it  is  said  to  have  been  the 
occasion  of  his  blindness.  This  misfortune  obliged 
him  to  return  to  Smyrna,  where  he  finished  his  Iliad. 
Some  time  after,  the  bad  state  of  his  affairs  forced 
him  to  visit  Cumse,  where  he  hoped  to  have  found 

OF    HOMER.  5 

relief.  Here  his  poems  were  highly  applauded,  and 
he  was  received  with  great  joy ;  hut  when  he  proposed 
to  immortalize  their  city,  if  they  would  allow  him  a 
salary  out  of  the  public  treasury,  he  was  told  there 
would  be  no  end  of  maintaining  the  "  Homeroi,  or 
blind  men,"  and  it  was  from  this  he  got  the  name  of 
Homer,  or  a  blind  man.  On  this  being  refused,  he 
left  that  city,  uttering  this  imprecation,  "May  no 
Poets  ever  be  bom  in  Cuma,  to  celebrate  it  by  their 
poems;"  and  came  to  Phoc8ea.  He  afterwards 
wandered  through  several  places,  and  arrived  at 
Chios,  where  he  married,  and  composed  his  Odyssey. 
Some  time  after,  having  added  many  verses  to  his 
Poems,  in  praise  of  some  cities  of  Greece,  especially 
Athens  and  Argos,  he  went  to  Samos,  where  be  spent 
the  winter,  singing  at  the  houses  of  the  great,  with  a 
crowd  of  boys  after  him.  From  Samos,  he  went  to 
one  of  the  Sporades,  intending  to  prosecute  his 
voyage  to  Athens.  Where  he  died,  or  where  he  was 
buried,  is  altogether  uncertain;  however,  the  inhabi- 
tants of  Cos,  one  of  the  Sporades,  claimed  that  ho- 
nor, which  was  also  contended  for  by  the  Cyprians. 

It  has  been  doubted  by  some  of  Homer's  Commen- 
tators, whether  he  was  blind  or  not;  but  thus,  the 
ancients  generally  represented  him,  as  appears  from 
all  the  portraits,  busts,  and  medals  which  have  been 

I  have  already  observed  that  he  had  composed  some 
part  of  his  Iliad  before  his  sight  began  to  fail  him ; 
but  that  he  laboured  under  this  privation  when  he 
composed  his  Odyssey,  has  never  been  questioned. 
In  the  eighth  book  of  that  poem,  in  the  person  of 

6  THE   LIFE 

Demodocus,  he  has  described  his  own  helpless  situa- 
tion in  the  most  tender  and  pathetic  language. 

"  Dear  to  the  Muse,  who  gave  his  days  to  flow 
"With  mighty  blessings,  mix'd  with  mighty  woe; 
"  With  clouds  of  darkness  quenched  his  visual  ray, 
"  But  gave  him  power  to  raise  the  lofty  lay." 

Neither  the  virtues  nor  the  talents  of  Homer  could 
procure  him  a  single  patron,  in  the  country  which  at 
ihat  time  was  the  seat  of  literature  and  science !  Shame 
to  Greece,  that  suflered  a  man  who  reflected  more 
honour  upon  her  than  all  the  warriors  or  statesmen 
she  ever  produced,  thus  to  live  in  poverty,  and  die  in 
obscurity  I  The  only  incontestable  works  which  Ho- 
mer has  left  behind  him,  are  the  Iliad  and  Odyssey ; 
both  of  which,  for  masterly  invention,  grandeur  of 
sentiment,  nobleness  of  character,  and  richness  of 
colouring,  excel  any  thing  of  the  kind,  in  that  or  any 
other  language.  Nothing  is  equal  to  the  clearness 
and  majesty  of  Homer's  style,  to  the  sublimity  of  his 
thoughts,  to  the  strength  and  sweetness  of  his  verses; 
or  to  that  easy,  natural  simplicity  of  manner,  which 
is  the  crowning  ornament  of  composition  ;  which  gives 
lustre  to  every  other  beauty,  and  is  justly  called  "  the 
dress  of  Nature.''  All  his  images  are  striking,  his 
descriptions  lively  and  exact,  the  passions  so  well  ex- 
pressed, and  nature  so  justly  and  finely  painted,  that 
he  seems  to  give  to  every  thing  motion,  life,  and 
action.  In  a  word,  the  more  he  is  read  by  a  person 
of  taste,  the  more  he  is  admired.  Nor  are  his  works 
to  be  esteemed  merely  as  interesting  poems,  nor  as 
the  monuments  of  a  sublime  and  varied  genius ;  no, 
he  was  in  general  so  accurate  with  respect  to  customs. 

OF    HOMER.  7 

that  he  seldom  mentions  persons  or  things,  that  we 
may  not  conclude  to  have  been  well  known  during  the 
time  in  which  he  wrote.  It  is  Pope's  opinion,  that 
his  account  of  people,  princes,  and  nations,  is  purely 
historical,  founded  on  the  real  transactions  of  that  age, 
and  is  by  far  the  most  valuable  piece  of  history  and 
geography  extant,  concerning  the  state  of  Greece  in 
that  early  period  of  the  world.  His  geogi'aphical  di- 
visions of  that  country  were  thought  so  exact,  that  we 
are  told  of  many  controversies,  concerning  the  boun- 
daries of  Grecian  cities,  being  determined  by  the 
authority  of  his  poems.  Alcibiades  once  gave  a 
rhetorician  a  sound  box  on  the  ear  for  not  having  the 
writings  of  Homer  in  his  school.  Alexander  the 
Great  was  so  charmed  with  them,  that  he  commonly 
placed  them  under  his  pillow  beside  his  sword ;  he 
enclosed  the  Iliad  in  the  most  precious  box  of  Darius, 
"in  order,''  said  he  to  his  courtiers,  '^tliat  the  most 
perfect  production  of  the  human  mind  may  be  en- 
closed in  the  ichest  casket  in  the  world ;"  and  one 
day  seeing  the  tomb  of  Achilles  in  Sigaeum,  "  Fortu- 
nate hero,"  said  he,  "thou  hast  had  a  Homer  to  sing 
thy  victories  !" 

Longinus,  the  most  refined  of  critics,  beautifully 
compares  the  Iliad  to  the  mid-day,  and  the  Odyssey 
to  the  setting  sun ;  and  observes,  "  that  though  the 
Iliad  claims  an  uncontested  superiority  over  the 
Odyssey,  yet  in  the  latter,  the  same  force,  the  same 
sublimity  and  elegance  prevail,  though  divested  of 
their  most  powerful  fire ;  and  it  still  preserves  its  origi- 
nal splendour  and  majesty,  though  deprived  of  its  me- 
ridian heat."    Lycurgus,  Solon,  and  the  kings  and 

8  THE    LIFE 

princes  of  Greece  set  such  a  value  on  Homer's  works, 
that  they  took  the  utmost  pains  in  procuring  coiTect 
editions  of  them,  the  most  esteemed  of  which  was  that 
of  Aristarchus.*  Didymusf  was  the  first  who  wrote 
notes  on  Homer,  and  Eustathius,t  archbishop  of 
Thessalonica  in  the  twelfth  century,  is  the  most  cele- 
brated of  his  commentators.  Homer  composed  seve- 
ral other  works  beside  the  Iliad  and  the  Odyssey. 
There  are  ascribed  to  him  the  Battle  of  the  Frogs  and 
the  Mice,  thirty-two  Hymns,  and  several  other  pieces, 
most  of  which  are  Epigrams ;  but  the  most  probable 
opinion  is,  that  there  are  none  of  Homer's  works 
now  extant,  except  the  Iliad  and  the  Odyssey.  Pope 
has  given  us  an  elegant  translation  of  the  Iliad, 
adorned  wath  all  the  harmony  of  poetic  numbers  ;  this 
inimitable  poem  is  so  much  read  and  so  generally 
admired,  that  I  will  not  attempt  to  describe  its  many 

*  A  celebrated  grammarian  of  Samos,  disciple  of  Aristo- 
phanes; he  lived  the  greatest  part  of  his  life  at  Alexandria,  and 
Ptolemy  Philometer  entrusted  him  with  the  education  of  his 
sons.  He  was  famous  for  his  critical  powers,  and  revised 
Homer's  poems  with  such  severity,  that  ever  after  all  severe  cri- 
tics were  called  Aristarchi:  he  wrote  above  eight  hundred 
commentaries  on  different  authors,  much  esteemed  in  his  day. 
In  his  old  age  he  became  dropsical,  upon  which  he  starved  him- 
self to  death  in  the  seventy-second  year  of  his  age,  B.C.  157. 

f  A  Scholiast  on  Homer,  surnamed  Chalkeuteras,  flou- 
rished, B.C.  40. 

X  A  Greek  commentator  on  the  works  of  Homer.  It  is  to 
be  lamented  that  the  design  of  Alexander  Politus,  begun  at 
Florence,  in  1735,  and  published  in  the  first  five  books  of  the 
Iliad,  is  not  executed,  as  a  Latin  translation  of  these  excellent 
commeutaries  is  among  the  desiderata  of  the  present  day. 

OF    HOMER.  y 

beauties  :  the  Moonlight  Scene,  in  the  eighth  book,  I 
here  give  as  a  specimen  of  Pope's  translation : — 

"  As  when  the  moon,  refulgent  lamp  of  night ! 

"  O'er  Heaven's  clear  azure  spreads  her  sacred  light; 

"  When  not  a  breath  disturbs  the  deep  serene, 

"  And  not  a  cloud  o'ercasts  the  solemn  scene : 

"  Around  her  throne  the  vivid  planets  roll, 

"  And  stars  unnumbered  gild  the  glowing  pole ; 

**  O'er  the  dark  trees  a  yellower  verdure  shed, 

"And  tipt  with  silver  every  mountain's  head; 

"  Then  shine  the  vales,  the  rocks  in  prospect  rise  ! 

"  A  flood  of  glory  bursts  from  all  the  skies  : 

*'  The  coHscious  swains,  rejoicing  in  the  sight, 

"  Eye  the  blue  vault,  and  bless  the  useful  light." 

Madame  Dacier  translated  both  the  Iliad  and 
Odyssey  into  French  prose,  of  which  there  is  an 
English  version  by  Broome.  Cowper  has  also  trans- 
lated the  works  of  Homer  into  blank  verse. 

I  here  insert,  for  the  information  of  my  readers, 
Cowper's  translation  of  the  above  passage;  and  though 
at  first  sight  they  may  not  be  able  to  judge  which  is 
the  more  literal,  they  will  easily  perceive  which  is 
the  more  poetical. 

"As  ■when  around  the  clear  bright  Moon,  the  stars 
"  Shine  in  full  splendour,  and  the  winds  are  hushed, 
"  The  groves,  the  mountain  tops,  the  headland  heights 
"  Stand  all  apparent,  not  a  vapour  streaks 
"The  boundless  blue,  but  aether  opened  wide — 
"  All  glitters,  and  the  shepherd's  heart  is  cheered." 

But  those  who  wish  to  know  the  several  editions  of 
Homer,  and  the  writers  who  have  employed  themselves 
on  the  works  of  that  great  poet,  may  consult  Fabricius, 
in  the  first  volume  of  his  Bibliotheca  Graeca. 

10  THE   LIFE 


Wood's  Essay  on  the  Genius  and  Writings  of  Homer. — 
Cumberland's  Observer. — ENCYCLOPiEDiA  Britannica. — 
LEMrRiBRE's  Classical  Dictionary. 

OF   MILTON  11 



"  But  Milton  next,  \*ith  high  and  haughty  stalks, 

"  Unfettered  in  majestic  numbers  walks; 

"  No  vulgar  Hero  can  his  Muse  engage, 

"  Nor  earth's  wide  scene  confine  his  hallowed  rage." 

With  the  name  of  Milton,  must  ever  be  associated 
in  a  British  mind  the  highest  sentiments  of  veneration. 
He  who  makes  the  least  pretension  to  liberal  know- 
ledge and  taste,  and  who,  notwithstanding,  feels  no 
wish  to  learn  the  circumstances  of  the  life  of  such  a 
writer,  may  justly  be  suspected  of  some  dislike,  not 
only  to  the  Muse,  but  to  goodness  itself,  and  to  that 
greatness  of  mind  which  procures  distinguished  ho- 

"Paradise  Lost,"  however,  has  established  an  imper- 
ishable fame.  Human  nature  must  suffer  an  awful 
wreck,  before  that  work  can  cease  to  interest  the  nu- 
merous thousands  of  its  readers  !  No  wonder  then, 
that  memoirs  of  the  life  of  its  Author  have  long 
followed  one  another,  with  increasing  success,  till  the 
subject,  through  all  its  authorities,  is  now  nearly  ex- 

12  THE    LIFE 

hausted  :  the  substance  of  the  whole  I  shall  endeavour 
faithfully  and  briefly  to  comprise  in  the  following 

This  great  Poet  was  descended  from  a  respectable 
family  of  Milton,  in  Oxfordshire.     His  grandfather 
was  a  bigoted  Papist,  and   disinherited  his   son  for 
embracing  the  Protestant  religion;    upon  which  he 
came  to  London,  and  settled   there  as  a  scrivener; 
where  the  subject  of  this  narrative  was  born,  on  the 
9th  of  Dec.  1608.     He  received  the  first  rudiments 
of  his  education  from  a  private  tutor,  who  was  brought 
into  the  family  for  that  purpose:  from  his  father's 
house  he  went  to  St.  Paul's  School,  and  entered  a 
student  of  Christ's  College,  Cambridge :  during  his 
residence    there,   he   composed    most   of  his   Latin 
poems,   in  a  style  exquisitely  imitative  of  the  best 
models  of  antiquity.     Milton  is  said  to  have  been  the 
first  Englishman  who  wrote  Latin  verse  with  classical 
elegance.     On  leaving  the  university,   after  having 
taken  out  his  degree  of  A.M.,  in  1632,  he  returned 
to  his  father,  then  residing  at  Horton,  in  Bucking- 
hamshire, where  he   pursued  his   studies   with    un- 
paralleled assiduity  and  success.     They  did  not,  how- 
ever, so  entirely  absorb  his  attention,  as  not  to  afford 
him  time  to  produce  "The  Mask  of  Comus,"  a  work 
adorned  with   all   the   ornaments  of  diction,   where 
allusions,  images,  and  beautiful  epithets  embellished 
every  period  with  lavish  decoration  :  for  though  it  is 
a  drama  too  much  in  the  epic  style  to  please  on  the 
stage,  yet,  in  whatever  light  it  is  viewed,  whether  as 
a    series  of  lines,  a  masque,  or  a  poem,  it  can  be 
considered  as  inferior  only  to  Paradise   Lost.     His 

OF    MILTON.  13 

next  production  was  Lycidas,  a  poem  no  less  beautiful 
of  its  kind,  than  the  last ;  being  a  monody  on  the 
death  of  his  friend  Edward  King,  son  of  Sir  John 
King,  secretary  for  Ireland,  and  who  was  lost  on  his 
passage  to  that  country.  Milton  having  now  re- 
mained with  his  father  about  five  years,  obtained,  on 
the  death  of  his  mother,  the  liberty  to  travel,  which 
he  so  ardently  desired;  he  left  England  in  1638; 
first  went  to  Paris,  where  he  visited  the  celebrated 
Grotius,  and  thence  hastened  into  Italy,  whose  lan- 
guage and  literature  he  studied  with  uncommon  dili- 
gence. There  he  was  received  with  marked  attention 
by  the  learned  and  great ;  for,  notwithstanding  the 
undissembled  openness  of  his  political  and  religious 
opinions,  he  was  introduced  to  a  musical  entertain- 
ment by  Cardinal  Barberini  (afterwards  Pope  Urban 
VIII.)  in  person,  who  waited  for  him  at  the  door, 
and  led  him  by  the  hand  into  the  assembly.  From 
Rome  be  went  to  Naples ;  where  he  was  received  with 
no  less  respect  by  Manso,  Marquis  of  Villa,  who  had 
been  before  the  patron  of  Tasso :  after  which,  he 
visited  the  rest  of  Italy,  caressed  and  honoured  by 
every  one  conspicuous  for  high  rank,  or  distinguished 
abilities.  Among  the  last  was  the  great  Galileo, 
whom  he  did  not  omit  to  visit,  although,  at  that  time, 
a  prisoner  in  the  Inquisition,  for  having  taught  the 
annual  and  diurnal  motions  of  the  earth!  After  having 
spent  two  years  in  his  travels,  which  were  designed  to 
extend  to  Sicily  and  Greece,  he  hastened  home,  on 
hearing  of  the  troubles  in  his  native  country,  judg- 
ing it  criminal  to  remain  indifferent,  or  to  indulge 
in  amusements,  while  his  countrymen  were  contending 
for  their  liberties.     On  his  return  he  took  a  house  in 

14  THE    LIFE 

Aldersgate-street,  where  he  superintended  the  educa- 
tion of  his  nephews;  and  also  received  other  young 
gentlemen  to  be  boarded  and  instructed.  In  his  35th 
year,  he  married  Mary,  the  daughter  of  Richard 
Pouel,  Esq.  of  Forrest-hill,  Oxfordshire  ;  but  a  sepa- 
ration, or  rather  a  desertion  on  the  wife's  part,  took 
place  a  month  after  the  ceremony ;  on  her  refus- 
ing to  return,  in  comiDliance  with  repeated  requisi- 
tions, he  was  so  provoked,  that  he  was  induced  to  pub- 
lish several  treatises  on  the  doctrine  of  divorce,  and 
also  to  pay  his  addresses  to  a  young  lady  of  great  wit 
and  beauty.  A  reconciliation  was  the  consequence, 
for  his  wife,  in  an  unexpected  interview,  throwing 
herself  at  his  feet,  implored  his  forgiveness:  im- 
pressed with  this  event,  he  is  said  to  have  conceived 
the  pathetic  scene  in  Paradise  Lost,  in  w^hich  Eve 
addressed  herself  to  Adam,  for  pardon  and  peace. 

Her  lowly  plight 

Immoveable,  till  peace  obtained  from  fault 
Acknowledged  and  deplored,  in  Adam  wrought 
Commiseration;  soon  his  heart  relented 
Towards  her,  his  life  so  late  and  sole  delight. 
Now  at  his  feet  submissive  in  distress ! 
Creature  so  fair,  his  reconcilement  seeking. 
His  counsel,  whom  she  had  displeased,his  aid: 
As  one  disarmed,  his  anger  all  he  lost." 

From  this  period  to  the  restoration,  our  author 
w^as  so  deeply  engaged  in  the  controversies  of  the 
times,  that  he  found  no  leisure  for  polite  literature. 
The  Allegro  and  Penseroso,  however,  appeared  in  a 
collection  of  Latin  and  Enghsh  poems,  published  in 
1645.  These  delightful  pieces  are,  undoubtedly,  the 
two  best  descriptive  poems  that  ever  were  written  ; 

OF    MILTON.  15 

had  he  left  no  other  monuments  but  Comus,  Lycidas, 
and  the  Matchless  Pair,  yet  they  alone  would  be 
sufficient  to  render  his  name  immortal.  They  were, 
however,  little  noticed  on  their  publication,  and 
remained  nearly  a  century  disregarded,  or  at  least 
scarcely  known  ;  while  his  polemical  tracts,  (now 
onlv  in  their  titles  remembered,)  made  their  author's 
fortune,  and  spread  his  fame  over  Europe  :  of  these, 
the  most  celebrated  is  his  "Defensio  Populi  Angli- 
cani,"  or  "Defence  of  the  EngUsh  People,"  in  an- 
swer to  Salmasius,  professor  of  polite  literature  at 
Leyden,  who  was  employed  by  Charles  the  II.  when 
in  exile,  to  write  the  ''Defensio  Regis,"  or  "Defence 
of  the  King."  Milton's  piece  wasso  severe,  and  so 
much  admired,  that  it  is  said  to  have  killed  his  anta- 
gonist with  vexation.*  For  this  tract  he  was  rewarded 

*  This  celebrated  controversy  was  of  that  magnitude,  that 
all  Europe  took  a  part  in  the  paper-war  of  these  great  men. 
Salmasius  was  a  man  of  vast  erudition,  but  no  taste.  His 
writings  are  learned,  but  sometimes  ridiculous.  The  opening 
of  his  "  Defensio  Regis,"  provokes  a  laugh : — 

"  Englishmen,  who  toss  the  heads  of  Kings  as  so  many 
tennis  balls;  who  play  with  crowns  as  if  they  were  bowls; 
who  look  upon  sceptres  as  so  many  crooks  !"  He  reproaches 
Milton,  as  being  but  a  puny  piece  of  man;  an  homunculus;  a 
dwarf  deprived  of  the  human  figure;  a  bloodless  being,  com- 
posed of  nothing  but  skin  and  bone;  a  contemptible  pedagogue, 
fit  only  to  flog  his  boys ;  and  sometimes,  elevating  his  mind 
into  a  poetic  frenzy,  he  applies  to  him  the  words  of  Virgil. 
'Monstrum,  horrendum,informe,ingens,  cuilumenademptum,' 
'  A  monster,  horrid,  hideous,  huge  and  blind.' 

To  this  senseless  declaration,  our  great  Poet  made  a  spirited 
reply,  and  concluded  with  these  words:  'Even  my  eyes,  blind 
as  they  are,  are  unblemished  in  their  appearance:  in  this  alone, 
and  much  against  my  inclination,  I  am  a  deceiver.' 


16  THE    LIFE 

with  £1000,  a  sum  twenty  times  greater  than  he 
made  by  all  his  poetical  works  put  together !  and 
was  also  promoted  to  be  Latin  Secretary  to  the  Pro- 
tector. On  the  2nd  of  May,  1652,  his  family  was  in- 
creased by  the  birth  of  his  fourth  child,  Deborah; 
and  the  mother  dying  in  child -bed,  he  was  left  with 
three  orphan  daughters,  and  in  a  state  rapidly  ad- 
vancing to  blindness. 

The  prediction  of  his  physicians  was  now  hasten- 
ing to  its  fatal  accomplishment ;  his  snght  naturally- 
weak,  and  impaired  by  incessant  study  from  the 
earliest  period  of  his  life,  had  for  several  years  been 
sensibly  declining:  and  when  he  engaged  in  his  last 
great  work,  had  discovered  symptoms  of  approaching 
extinction.  In  the  course  of  that  honourable  labour 
he  entirely  lost  the  vision  of  one  eye,  and  that  of  the 
other  closing  soon  afterwards,  he  was  resigned  to 
total  darkness. 

The  fortitude  with  which  he  supported  himself, 
mider  this  afflicting  privation,  isad  mirably  discovered 
in  that  Sonnet  to  his  friend  Cyriac  Skinner,  the 
grandson  of  the  great  Lord  Coke,  which  I  shall  now 
transcribe.  I  could  never  read  it  without  paying  to 
its  author  the  profound  homage  of  my  respect. 

Cyriac,  this  three-years-day,  these  eyes,  though  clear, 

To  outward  view,  of  blemish,  or  of  spot, 

Bereft  of  light,  their  seeing  have  forgot; 

Nor  to  their  idle  orbs  doth  sight  appear 

Of  sun,  or  moon,  or  star  throughout  the  year ! 

Or  man,  or  woman, — Yet  I  argue  not 

Against  Heaven's  hand,  or  will,  nor  bate  a  jot 

Of  heart,  or  hope,  but  still  bear  up  and  steer 

Right  onward.     What  supports  me,  dost  thou  ask  ? 

OF    MILTON  17 

The  conscience,  friend,  to  have  lost  them,  overplied 

In  Liberty's  defence,  my  noble  task. 

Of  which  all  Europe  rings  from  side  to  side: 

This  thought  might  lead  me  through  the  world's  vain 

Content,  though  blind,  had  I  no  other  guide. 

Of  the  completion  of  his  misfortune,  the  date  is 
by  no  means  accm'ately  settled.  All  his  biographers, 
with  the  exception  of  Todd,  place  it  in  1654;  but 
it  unquestionably  happened  in  some  antecedent  pe- 
riod, as  appears  by  his  letter  to  Phalaris,  written  in 
the  autumn  of  that  year  ;*and  we   know,  that  when 

*  Known  to  you  only  by  my  writings,  and  widely  separated 
in  our  abodes,  I  was  first  honoured  by  your  kind  correspon- 
dence; and  afterwards,  when  an  unexpected  occasion  brought 
you  to  London,  with  the  same  kindness  you  came  to  see  me, 
who  could  see  nobody;  one  labouring  under  an  affliction 
which  can  entitle  him  to  little  observation,  and  may  perhaps 
expose  him  to  much  disregard.  As,  however,  you  entreat 
me  not  to  abandon  all  hopes  of  recovering  my  sight,  and  state 
that  you  have  a  medical  friend  at  Paris,  (M.  Thevenot,)  parti- 
cularly eminent  as  an  oculist,  whom  you  could  consult  upon 
the  subject,  if  I  would  transmit  to  you  the  causes  and  the 
symptoms  of  my  disease ;  that  I  may  not  seem  to  neglect  any 
means,  perhaps  divinely  suggested,  of  relief,  I  will  hasten  to 
comply  with  your  requisition.  It  is  now,  I  think,  about  ten 
years  since  I  first  perceived  my  sight  to  grow  weak  and  dim, 
and  at  the  same  time  my  spleen  and  other  viscera  heavy  and 
flatulent.  When  1  sat  down  to  read,  as  usual  in  the  morning, 
my  eyes  gave  me  considerable  pain,  and  refused  their  ofiice 
till  fortified  by  moderate  exercise  of  body.  If  I  looked  at  a 
candle  it  appeared  surrounded  with  an  iris.  In  a  little  time  a 
darkness,  covering  the  left  side  of  the  left  eye,  (which  was 
partially  clouded  some  years  before  the  other,)  intercepted  the 


18  THE   LIFE 

he  was  visited  by  his  Athenian  friends,  at  a  time  not 
greatly  posterior  to  the  pubHcation  of  his  defence,  he 
was  totally  blind.  Todd  has  noticed  in  Thurloe's 
State  Papers,  a  letter  from  the  Hague,  dated  June  20, 
1653,  in  which  Milton  is  mentioned  as  blind.  We 
must  conclude,  therefore,  that  his  total  loss  of  sight 
soon  followed  the  publication  of  his  answer  to  Salma- 
sius,  and  happened  early  in  1652.    He  was  forewarned 

view  of  all  things  in  that  direction.  Objects  also  in  frout, 
seemed  to  dwindle  in  size,  whenever  I  closed  my  right  eye. 

This  eye  too,  for  three  years  gradually  failing,  a  few  months 
previous  to  my  total  blindness,  while  I  was  perfectly  stationary, 
every  thing  seemed  to  swim  backward  and  forward;  and  now, 
thick  vapours  appear  to  settle  on  my  forehead  and  temples, 
which  weigh  down  my  eye-lids,  with  an  oppressive  sense  of 

I  ought  not,  however,  to  omit  mentioning,  that,  before  1 
wholly  lost  my  sight,  as  soon  as  I  lay  down  in  bed,  and  turned 
on  either  side,  brilliant  flashes  of  light  used  to  issue  from  my 
closed  eyes,  and  afterwards  on  the  gradual  failure  of  my  powers 
of  vision,  colours  proportionally  dim  and  faint  seemed  to  rush 
out  with  a  degree  of  vehemence,  and  a  kind  of  noise.  These 
have  now  faded  into  uniform  blackness,  such  as  ensues  on  the 
extinction  of  a  candle  ;  or  blackness  only  varied,  and  inter- 
mingled with  dunnish  grey.  The  constant  darkness,  however, 
in  which  I  live  day  and  night,  inclines  more  to  a  whitish  than 
to  a  blackish  tinge ;  and  the  eye  turning  round,  admits  as 
through  a  narrow  chink,  a  very  small  portion  of  light.  But 
this  though  perhaps  it  may  offer  a  small  glimpse  of  hope  to 
the  physician,  does  not  prevent  me  from  making  up  my  mind 
to  my  case,  as  one  evidently  beyond  the  hope  of  cure ;  and  I 
often  reflect,  that  as  many  days  of  darkness,  according  to  the 
wise  men,  are  allotted  to  us  all,  mine,  (which  by  the  favour  of 
the  Deity,  are  divided  between  leisure  and  study,)  are  recre- 
ated by  the  conversation  and  intercourse  of  my  friends,  and 

OF    MILTON  19 

by  his  physicians  of  the  contingent  calamity,  and  in 
the  alternative  of  evils,  preferred  the  loss  of  sight  to 
the  dereliction  of  his  duty. 

Milton,  however,  did  not  long  remain  a  widower;  he 
shortly  after  mamed  Catharine,  daughter  of  Captain 
Woodcock,  of  Hackney  :  she  seems  to  have  been  the 
object  of  her  husband's  fondest  affection :  and  like  her 
predecessor,  dying  in  child -bed,  within  a  year  after 
her  marriage,  she  was  lamented  by  him  in  a  pleasing 
and  pathetic  Sonnet,  which  will  be  felt  by  every 
sensible  bosom  ;  it  may  not  be  irrelevant  to  remark, 
that  the  thought  in  the  concluding  line,  which  on  a 
cursory  view  may  be  branded  as  a  conceit,  is  strictly 
oorrect  and  just.  In  his  dreams,  a  blind  man  may 
expatiate  in  the  full  blaze  of  the  sun,  and  the  morning, 
in  which  he  awakes,  unquestionably  restores  him  to 
his  darkness.  The  fault  is  in  the  expression  alone — 
"  I  waked,  she  fled,  and  I  replunged  in  night ;" 
would  perhaps  be  sufficiently  unexceptionable. 

Methought  I  saw  my  late  espoused  saint, 
Brought  to  me,  like  Alcestis,  from  the  grave, 

far  more  agreeable  than  those  deadly  shades  of  which  Solomon 
is  speaking;  but  if,  as  it  is  written,  '*  Man  shall  not  live  by 
bread  alone,  but  by  every  word  that  proceedeth  out  of  the 
mouth  of  God,"  why  should  not  each  of  us  likewise  acquiesce 
in  the  reflection,  that  he  derives  the  benefit  of  sight,  not  from 
his  eyes  alone,  but  from  the  guidance  and  providence  of  the 
same  Supreme  Being.  Whilst  He  looks  out  and  provides  for 
as  He  does,  and  leads  me  about,  as  it  were  with  His  hand, 
through  the  paths  of  life,  I  willingly  surrender  my  own  faculty 
of  vision,  in  conformity  to  his  good  pleasure,  and  with  a  heart 
as  strong  and  steadfast  as  if  I  were  a  Lynceus,  I  bid  you,  my 
Phalaris,  farewell. 

20  THE    LIFE 

Whom  Jove's  great  son  to  her  glad  husband  gave, 

Rescued  from  death,  by  force,  though  pale  and  faint. 

Mine  as  whom  washed  from  spot  of  child-bed  taint 

Purification  in  the  old  law  did  save,* 

And  such,  as  yet  once  more  I  trust  to  have 

Full  sight  of  her  in  heaven  without  restraint. 

Came  vested  all  in  white,  pure  as  her  mind ; 

Her  face  was  veil'd,  yet  to  my  fancied  sight, 

Love,  sweetness,  goodness,  in  her  person  shined 

So  clear,  as  in  no  face  with  more  delight : 

But  Oh  !  as  to  embrace  me  she  inclined — 

I  waked,  she  fled,  and  day  brought  back  my  night ! 

The  daughter  whom  she  bore  him,  soon  followed 
her  to  the  tomb.  On  the  Restoration,  he  was  obliged 
to  quit  his  house,  together  with  his  employment,  and 
to  secrete  himselfinan  obscure  abode,  in  Bartholomew 
Close :  his  friends  had  some  difficulty  to  prevent  him 
from  being  excepted  in  the  act  of  oblivion  ;  to  lull  re- 
search and  to  gain  time,  they  had  recom-se  to  the  ex- 
pedient of  a  mock  funeral.  By  the  act  of  oblivion  he 
was  at  least  freed  from  danger,hut  his  polemical  ^vri tings 
were  burnt  by  the  common  hangman.  From  Bartho- 
lomew Close  he  removed  to  Jewry-street,  and  married 
for  his  third  wife,  Elizabeth  INIiustur,  daughter  to  a 
gentleman  in  Cheshire.  He  was  now  in  his  52nd 
year,  blind,  infirm,  and  comparatively  poor,  for  he 
had  lost  by  the  civil  wars  his  paternal  estate,  and  by 
the  Restoration  his  acquired  property ;  but  neither 
his  infirmities,  nor  the  vicissitudes  of  fortune,  could 
depress  the  vigour  of  his  mind,  or  prevent  him  from 
executing  a  design  he  had  long  conceived,  of  writing 
an  heroic  poem.  The  great  work  of  Paradise  Lost, 
was  finished  in  1665,  at  Chalfont,  in  Bucks,  where 
the  author  had  taken  refuge  from  the  plague ;  and 

OF    MILTON  21 

published  in  1667,  when  he  returned  to  London.  He 
sold  the  copy  to  Samuel  Simmons,  for  five  pounds 
in  hand,  and  five  pounds  more  when  1300  copies 
should  be  sold  ;  and  the  same  sum  on  the  publica- 
tion of  the  second  and  third  editions,  for  each  edi- 
tion. Of  this  agreement,  Milton  received  £15,  and 
his  widow  afterwards  sold  her  claims  for  £8.  Such 
was  the  first  reception  of  a  work,  which  constitutes 
the  glory  and  boast  of  English  literature  ;  a  work 
which,  notwithstanding  the  severity  of  criticism,  may 
be  ranked  among  the  noblest  eflforts  of  human  genius ; 
for  though  in  variety  of  character  and  choice  of 
subject,  it  may  yield  to  some,  yet  in  grandeur  and 
sublimity,  it  is  confessedly  superior  to  all.  The 
measure  of  this  divine  poem  is  blank  verse,  between 
which  and  rhyme  there  are  endless  disputes  for  pre- 
eminence— but  surely  the  essential  qualities  of  poetry 
can  no  more  depend  on  either,  than  those  of  a  man 
on  the  fashion  of  his  clothes.  Dr.  Johnson,  who 
could  not  endure  blank  verse,  yet  confesses,  that  *'  he 
could  not  prevail  on  himself  to  wish  that  Milton  had 
been  a  rhymer.''  Paradise  Lost  is  not,  however,  with- 
out faults;  perfection  in  this  life  is  unattainable. 
The  attempt  of  the  author  to  give  language  and 
sentiment  to  the  Deity,  is  where  he  seems  to  have 
failed  most  in  the  execution  ;  but  in  such  an  attempt, 
what  mortal  could  have  succeeded  ?  Other  exceptions 
it  has  endured  in  passing  the  fiery  ordeal  of  Doctor 
Johnson's  criticism;  yet,  every  reader  capable  of 
relishing  true  poetry,  will  agree  with  him  in  conclud- 
ing, that  *'  this  is  not  the  greatest  of  heroic  poems, 
only  because  it  is  not  the  first." 

22  THE    LIFE 

Three  years  after  the  publication  of  Paradise  Lost, 
he  published  "  Sampson  Agonistes"  a  tragedy  in  the 
purest  style  of  the  Greek  Drama,  and  "  Paradise  Re- 
gained;" which  he  is  said  to  have  preferred  to  his  great 
work,  but  in  which  preference  he  remains  alone. 
Paradise  Regained  has  suffered  much  in  the  com- 
parison. It  is  said  the  following  circumstance  gave 
rise  to  this  poem :  Elwood,  the  Quaker,  who  had 
been  introduced  to  him  for  the  purpose  of  improving 
himself  by  the  perusal  of  the  classical  writers,  sug- 
gested the  idea  of  such  a  work  just  before  he  came  to 
Chalfont,  and  the  Poet  presented  him  with  it  on  his 
return  to  London.  JNIilton  had  indeed  given  him  the 
perusal  of  Paradise  Lost  in  manuscript,  and  he  having 
read  it,  uponreturning  the  copy,  put  this  quaint  inten-o- 
gation, — "  What  hast  thou  to  say  to  Paradise  Found  ?" 
This  simple,  yet  natural  question,  gave  rise  to  Paradise 
Regained ;  a  work  as  much  obscured  by  the  splendour 
of  Paradise  Lost,  as  the  lustre  of  the  morning  star  by 
the  sun's  meridian  blaze  ;  but  if  any  other  than 
Milton  had  been  the  author,  it  would  have  justly 
claimed  and  received  universal  praise.  Our  great 
Poet  at  last,  worn  out  by  the  gout,  paid  the  debt  of 
nature  on  the  10th  of  November,  1674,  in  his  66th 
year,  at  his  house  in  Bunhill-fields,  and  was  buried 
in  St.  Giles's,  Cripplegate  ;  his  funeral  was  splendidly 
and  numerously  attended.  On  the  Restoration,  Mil- 
ton's friends  were  greatly  alarmed  for  his  safety,  lest 
he  should  be  proceeded  against  as  a  regicide ;  they 
therefore  used  all  their  influence  to  procure  him  a 
pardon,  in  which  I  am  happy  to  say,  they  succeeded. 
The  Government  contented  themselves  with  calling 

OF    MILTON.  23 

him  before  the  House,  as  may  be  seen  by  the  following 
extract  from  the  journal  of  the  House  of  Commons.* 

Milton  seems  to  have  been  saved  principally  by  the 
earnest  and  grateful  interposition  of  Sir  William 
Davenant,  who  had  been  captured  by  the  fleet  of  the 
Commonwealth,  on  his  passage  from  France  to  Amer- 
ica, and  had  been  ordered  by  the  Parliament,  in  1651, 
on  his  trial  before  the  High  Court  of  Justice.  The 
mediation  of  JNlilton ;  had  essentially  contributed  to 
snatch  him  from  danger ;  and  urged  by  that  generous 
benevolence  which  shone  conspicuously  in  his  charac- 
ter, he  was  now  eager  to  requite,  with  a  gift  of  equal 
value,  the  benefit  which  he  had  received.  For  the  ex- 
istence of  Davenant's  obligation  to  Milton,  we  have  the 
testimony  of  Wood,  and  for  the  subsequent  part  of  the 
story,  so  interesting  in  itself,  and  so  honourable  to 
human  nature,  the  evidence  is  directly  to  be  traced 
from  Richardson  to  Pope,  and  from  Pope  to  Betterton, 
the  immediate  client  and  intimate  of  Davenant. 

His  nuncupative  Will,  which  has  lately  been  dis- 
covered in  the  Prerogative  Registry,  and  published  by 
Mr.  Warton,  opens  a  glimpse  into  the  interior  of  Mil- 
ton's house,  and  shows  him  to  have  been  both  amiable 

*  Saturday,  15th  December,  1660.— "  Ordered,  that  Mr, 
Milton,  now  in  custody  of  the  sergeant  attending  this  house, 
be  forthwith  released,  paying  his  fees."  A  complaint  made 
that  the  sergeant  at  arms  had  demanded  excessive  fees  for  the 
imprisonment  of  Mr.  Milton,  the  house  again 

"  Ordered, — that  it  be  referred  to  a  committee  of  privileges, 
to  examine  this  business,  and  to  call  Mr.  Milton  and  the 
sergeant  before  them,  and  to  determine  what  is  fit  to  be  given 
to  the  sergeant  for  his  fees  in  this  case." 

24  THE    LIFE 

and  injured,  in  that  private  scene,  in  which  alone  he 
has  generally  been  considered  as  liable  to  censure,  or 
rather,  pevhajDS  not  entitled  to  our  affection.  In  this 
Will,  and  in  the  paper  connected  with  it,  we  find  the 
venerable  father  complaining  of  his  "unkind  children," 
for  leaving  and  neglecting  him,  because  he  was  blind; 
and  we  see  him  compelled,  as  it  were,  by  their  injuri- 
ous conduct,  to  appeal  against  them,  even  to  his 
servants.  We  are  assured  also,  by  the  deposition  on 
oath,  of  one  of  these  servants,  that  his  complaints  were 
not  extorted  by  slight  wrongs,  or  uttered  by  capricious 
passion  on  slight  provocation;  that  his  children,  (with 
the  exception  probably  of  Deborah,  who,  at  the  time 
immediately  in  question,  was  not  more  than  nine 
years  old,)  would  occasionally  sell  his  books  to  the 
dunghill- worn  en,  as  the  witness  calls  them  ;  that  they 
were  capable  of  combining  with  the  maid  servant,  and 
advising  her  to  cheat  her  master  and  their  father  in  her 
marketings;  and  that  one  of  them,  Mary,  on  being 
told  that  her  father  was  to  be  married,  replied,  ''that 
is  no  news,  but  if  I  could  hear  of  his  death,  that 
were  something." 

Much  has  been  said  on  the  unequal  flow  of  our 
Poet's  genius ;  and  by  some  it  has  been  represented 
as  under  the  influence  of  particular  seasons,  while  by 
others  it  has  been  regarded  as  the  effect  of  immediate 
and  positive  inspiration.  Phillips  declares,  that  his 
uncle's  poetic  faculty  was  vivid  only  in  the  winter,  and 
Toland  assigns  the  spring  as  the  season  of  its  peculiar 
activity;  while  Richardson,  with  a  jDroper  respect  to 
the  ardent  character  of  the  author's  mind,  expresses  a 
doubt  whether  such  a  work  could  be  suffered  for  any 

OF    MILTON.  25 

considerable  period  to  stand  absolutely  still.  Phillips, 
to  whom  his  relation  was  accustomed  to  shew  the 
poem  in  its  progress,  infonns  us  that,  not  having  seen 
any  verses  for  some  time,  on  the  approach  of  summer 
he  requested  to  know  the  cause  of  what  appeared  to 
him  to  be  extraordinary;  and  that  he  received  as  a 
reply  from  the  poet,  that  "  his  vein  never  flowed  hap- 
pily, but  from  the  autumnal  equinox  till  the  vernal; 
and  that  what  he  attempted  at  other  times  was  never 
to  his  satisfaction,  though  he  courted  his  fancy  ever 
so  much."  In  opposition  to  this,  and  in  support  of 
his  own  opinion,  Toland  adduces  the  information 
given  to  him  by  a  friend  of  Milton's,  and  the  testi- 
mony of  the  bard  himself,  who,  in  his  beautiful  elegy, 
"  On  the  Arrival  of  Spring,"  speaks  of  that  delightful 
season,  as  renovating  and  invigorating  his  genius. 
While  the  former  part  of  this  evidence  cannot  be 
poised  against  that  of  the  author's  confidential  friend 
and  nephew,  the  latter  must  be  considered  as  too  weak 
and  uncertain  to  be  entitled  to  any  great  regard. 
]Mrs.  Milton,  who  survived  her  husband,  says  that 
he  composed  principally  in  the  winter,  and  on  his 
waking  in  the  morning,  would  make  her  write  down 
sometimes  twenty  or  thirty  verses.  On  being  asked 
whether  he  did  not  frequently  read  Homer  and  Virgil, 
she  replied,  ''that  he  stole  from  nobody  but  the  Muse 
who  inspired  him."  To  a  lady  who  inquired  who  that 
Muse  was,  she  said,  "  it  was  God's  grace,  and  the 
Holy  Spirit  that  visited  him  nightly." 

A   small  monument,   with  his  bust,  was  erected 
not  long  since  to  his  memory,  in  Westminster  Abbey. 
Milton,  in  stature,  did  not  exceed  the  middle  size, 

26  THE    LIFE 

but  was  formed  with  jjerfect  symmetry,  and  was  more- 
over, in  his  youth,  eminently  beautiful;  of  which  mam- 
portraits  yet  to  be  seen,  and  the  following  epigram  of 
the  ]MarcpAis  of  Villa,  are  incontestable  proofs. 

"So  perfect  thou,  iu  mind,  Iq  form,  in  face  ; 
"  Thou'rt  not  of  English,  but  Angelic  race." 

In  his  habits,  he  was  abstemious  in  his  diet,  and 
naturally  disliked  all  strong  liquors.  In  his  youth  he 
studied  late,  but  afterwards  reversed  his  hours.  His 
amusements  consisted  in  the  conversation  of  his  friends, 
and  in  music,  in  which  he  was  a  great  proficient.  After 
he  became  blind,  he  was  assisted  in  his  studies  by  his 
daughters,  whom  he  taught  to  read  Hebrew,  Greek, 
and  Latin,  without  their  understanding  any  of  them; 
and  for  transcribing,  he  employed  any  casual  acquain- 
tance. His  literature  was  great;  he  was  a  perfect 
master  of  Hebrew,  Greek,  Latin,  Italian,  French  and 
Spanish.  Of  the  English  Poets,  he  preferred  Spencer, 
Shakspeare,  and  Cowley.  His  deportment  was  erect, 
open,  and  affable;  his  Conversation  easy,  cheerful, 
and  instructive;  his  wit  on  all  occasions  at  command, 
facetious,  grave,  or  satirical,  as  the  subject  required; 
his  judgment  just  and  penetrating;  his  apprehension 
quick;  his  memory  tenacious  of  what  he  read;  his 
reading,  only  not  so  extensive  as  his  genius,  for  that 
was  universal.  With  so  many  accomplishments,  not 
to  have  faults  and  misfortunes  to  be  laid  in  the  balance, 
with  the  fame  and  felicity  of  writing  Paradise  Lost, 
would  have  been  too  great  a  portion  for  humanity. 

As  INIilton  equalled  Homer  in  his  genius,  so  he 
en  nailed  him  in  his  minfortunes.     Homer  had  reached 


OF    MILTON.  2T 

the  years  of  manhood  before  he  lost  his  sight;  so  had 
Milton.  Homer's  great  work  was  his  Iliad;  Milton's, 
his  Paradise  Lost.  Homer's  second  great  work  was 
his  Odyssey;  INIilton's,  his  Paradise  Regained.  The 
Odyssey  is  as  much  inferior  to  the  Iliad,  as  Paradise 
Regained  is  to  Paradise  Lost.  Homer  had  Zoilus  for 
an  enemy,  and  Milton  had  Lauder.  These  two  epic 
poets,  like  Saturn  and  Jupiter  in  the  planetary  system, 
shine  bright  stars  of  excellence,  round  which  inferior 
orbs  for  ever  move  in  dull  succession.  Homer  and 
Milton  have  long  held  the  first  rank  among  poets;  the 
vigour  of  their  minds,  the  brilliancy  of  their  imagi- 
nations, the  flights  of  their  genius  like  those  of  in- 
spiration, extended  to  the  very  boundaries  of  time 
and  space. 

I  will  close  these  remarks  with  the  following  pane- 
gyric on  Milton,  by  the  author  of  "  The  Seasons." 

"  Is  not  each  great,  each  amiable  muse 

"Of  classic  ages  in  thy  Milton  met? 

"  A  genius  universal  as  his  theme: 

"  Astonishing  as  chaos,*  as  the  bloom 

"  Of  blowing  Eden  fair,  as  Heaven  sublime." 


Symmon's  Life  of  Milton. — Johnson's  Lives  of  English 
Poets. — Hayley's  Life  of  Milton. — Anderson's  Lives  of  the 
Poets.— M'NicoLi/s  Life  of  Milton. 

D  2 





"  In  manners  gentle,  in  affection  mild, 
"  In  wit  a  man,  simplicity  a  child." 

The  Life  of  Blacklock  has  a  claim  to  notice  be- 
yond that  of  most  of  the  Poets  of  om-  nation,  with 
whom  he  is  now  associated.  He  who  reads  his  Poems 
with  that  interest  which  their  intrinsic  merit  deserves, 
will  feel  that  interest  very  much  increased,  when  he 
shall  be  told  the  various  difficulties  which  their  author 
overcame  in  their  production,  the  obstacles  which 
nature  and  fortune  placed  in  his  way  to  the  pos- 
session of  those  ideas  which  he  acquired,  to  the 
communication  of  those  which  his  poetry  unfolds. 

The  facts  stated  in  the  present  account,  are  chiefly 
taken  from  the  learned  and  ingenious  Dr.  Anderson's 
narrative,  which  is  written  with  such  copiousness  of 
intelligence  as  leaves  little  to  be  supplied,  and  such 
felicity  of  performance  as  precludes  the  most  distant 
hope  of  improvement.     Among  the  few  additional 


particulars  detailed  here,  the  present  compiler  has 
endeavoured  to  give  a  complete  account  of  his  writings. 
Dr.  Thomas  Blacklock  was  born  at  Annan,  in  the 
county  of  Dumfries,  November  10,  1721.  His  pa- 
rents were  natives  of  the  county  of  Cumberland  ;  his 
father  was  by  trade  a  bricklayer,  his  mother  the 
daughter  of  a  considerable  dealer  in  cattle;  both  re- 
spectable in  their  characters  and,  it  would  appear, 
possessed  of  considerable  knowledge  and  urbanity, 
which,  in  a  country  where  education  was  cheap,  and 
property  a  good  deal  subdivided,  was  often  the  case 
with  persons  of  their  station.  Before  he  was  six 
months  old,  he  was  totally  deprived  of  his  sight  by 
the  small  pox,  and  reduced  to  that  forlorn  situation, 
so  feelingly  described  by  himself  in  his  soliloquy.  This 
rendered  him  incapable  of  any  of  those  mechanical 
trades  in  which  his  father  might  naturally  have  been 
inclined  to  place  him;  and  his  circumstances  pre- 
vented his  aspiring  to  the  higher  professions.  The 
good  man,  therefore,  kept  his  son  in  the  house;  and, 
with  the  assistance  of  some  of  his  friends,  fostered  that 
inclination  which  he  early  showed  for  books,  by  read- 
ing to  amuse  him  ;  first  the  simple  sort  of  publications 
which  are  commonly  put  into  the  hands  of  children, 
and  then  several  passages  out  of  some  of  our  poets. 
His  companions  (whom  his  early  gentleness  and 
kindness  of  disposition,  as  well  as  their  compassion 
for  his  misfortune,  strongly  attached  to  him,)  were 
very  assiduous  in  their  good  offices,  in  reading  to  in- 
struct and  amuse  him.  By  their  assistance,  he  ac- 
quired some  knowledge  of  the  Latin  tongue;  but  he 
never  was  at  a  grammar  school  till  at  a  more  advanced 
D  3 

30  THE    LIFE 

period  of  life.  Poetry  was  even  then  his  favorite 
reading,  and  he  found  an  enthusiastic  delight  in  the 
works  of  Milton,  Spencer,  Prior,  Pope,  and  Addi- 
son, and  in  those  of  his  countryman  Ramsay.  From 
loving  and  admiring  them  so  much,  he  soon  was  led 
to  endeavour  to  imitate  them,  and  when  scarcely 
twelve  years  of  age  he  began  to  write  verses.  Among 
these  early  essays  of  his  genius,  there  was  one  ad- 
dressed to  a  little  girl  whom  he  had  offended,  which 
is  preserved  in  his  works,  and  is  not  perhaps  inferior 
to  any  of  the  premature  compositions  of  boys  assist- 
ed by  the  best  education,  which  are  only  recalled 
into  notice  by  the  future  fame  of  their  authors. 

He  had  attained  the  age  of  nineteen,  when  his 
father  was  killed  by  the  accidental  fall  of  a  malt-kiln 
belonging  to  his  son-in-law.  This  loss,  heavy  to  any 
one  at  that  early  age,  would  have  been,  however,  to 
a  young  man  possessing  the  ordinary  advantages  of 
education,  comparatively  light ;  but  to  him,  thus  sud- 
denly deprived  of  the  support  on  which  his  youth  had 
leaned,  destitute  almost  of  any  resource  which  indus- 
try affords  to  those  who  have  the  blessings  of  sight, 
with  a  body  feeble  and  delicate  from  nature,  and  a 
mind  congenially  susceptible,  it  was  not  surprising 
that  this  blow  was  doubly  severe,  and  threw  on  his 
spirits  that  despondent  gloom  to  which  he  then  gave 
way,  and  which  sometimes  overclouded  him  in  the 
subsequent  period  of  his  life. 

Though  dependent,  however,  he  was  not  destitute 
of  friends,  and  heaven  rewarded  the  pious  confidence 
which  he  expressed  in  its  care,  by  providing  for  him 
protectors  and  patrons,  by  whose  assistance  he  ob- 


tained  advantages  which,  had  his  father  lived,  might 
perhaps  never  have  opened  to  him. 

He  lived  with  his  mother  about  a  year  after  his 
father's  death,  and  began  to  be  distinguished  as  a 
young  man  of  uncommon  talents  and  genius.  These 
were  at  that  time  unassisted  by  learning;  the  circum- 
stances of  his  family  affording  him  no  better  educa- 
tion than  the  smattering  of  Latin  which  his  com- 
panions had  taught  him,  and  the  perusal  and  recol- 
lection of  the  few  English  authors,  which  they  or 
his  father,  in  the  intervals  of  his  daily  labour,  had 
read  to  him. 

Poetry,  however,  though  it  attains  its  highest  per- 
fection in  a  cultivated  soil,  gi*ows  perhaps  as  luxuri- 
antly in  a  wild  one.  To  poetry  he  was  devoted  from 
his  earliest  days,  and  about  this  time  several  of  his 
poetical  productions  began  to  be  handed  about,  which 
considerably  enlarged  the  circle  of  his  friends  and  ac- 

Some  of  his  compositions  being  shown  to  Dr.  Ste- 
phenson, an  eminent  physician  in  Edinburgh,  who 
was  accidentally  at  Dumfries  on  a  professional  visit, 
he  formed  the  benevolent  design  of  carrying  him  to 
the  metropolis,  and  giving  to  his  natural  endowments 
the  assistance  of  classical  education. 

"He  came  to  Edinburgh  in  1741,  and  was  en- 
rolled," says  Mr.  Mackenzie,  *' a  Student  of  Divinity 
in  the  University  there,  though  at  that  time  without 
any  particular  view  of  entering  into  the  Church." 
But  this  account  may  be  reasonably  doubted  ;  for  in 
the  University  of  Edinburgh,  no  student  is  admitted 
into  the  theological  class,  till  he  has  completed  a 

32  THE    LIFE 

course  of  languages  and  philosophy.  Besides,  it  ap- 
pears by  the  following  letter  from  the  Rev.  Richard 
Batty  of  Kirk  Andrews,  (whose  wife  was  Blacklock's 
cousin,)  to  Sir  James  Johnson,  Bart,  of  Westerhall, 
dated  January  21,  1794,  and  printed  in  the  Scottish 
Register,  that  he  continued  at  the  grammoj  school 
in  Edinburgh,  till  the  beginning  of  1745. 

"I  had  a  letter  some  time  ago  from  Mr.  Hogan, 
at  Comlongan,  signifying  that  Lady  Annandale  had 
spoke  to  you  about  a  bursary  for  one  Thomas  Black* 
lock,  a  blind  boy,  who  is  now  at  the  grammar  school  in 
Edinburgh.  He  is  endowed  with  the  most  surprising 
genius,  and  has  been  the  author  of  a  gi'eat  many  ex- 
cellent poems.  He  has  been  hitherto  supported  by 
the  bounty  of  Dr.  Stephenson,  a  gentleman  in  Edin- 
burgh. I  understand  that  there  will  be  a  bursary 
vacant  against  Candlemas ;  if,  therefore,  you  would 
please  to  favour  him  with  your  interest,  it  will  be  a 
great  charity  done  to  a  poor  lad,  who  may  do  a  gi'eat 
deal  of  good  in  his  generation." 

The  effect  of  this  apiDlication  is  not  known;  but  he 
seems  to  have  continued  his  studies  under  the  patron- 
age of  Dr.  Stephenson,  till  the  year  1745. 

Of  the  kindness  of  Dr.  Stephenson,  he  always 
spoke  with  the  gi'eatest  warmth  of  gi'atitude  and  affec- 
tion ,  and  addressed  to  him  his  "  Imitation  of  the  first 
Ode  of  Horace." 

After  he  had  followed  his  studies  at  Edinburgh 
for  four  years,  on  the  breaking  out  of  the  Rebellion 
in  1745,  he  returned  to  Dumfries,  where  he  resided 
with  Mr.  Mc  Murdo,  his  brother-in-law,  in  whose  house 
he  was  treated  with  kindness  and  affection:  and  had 


an  opportunity,  from  the  society  which  it  afforded,  of 
considerably  increasing  the  store  of  his  ideas.  In 
1746,  he  published  a  small  collection  of  his  poems, 
at  Glasgow. 

After  the  close  of  the  Rebellion,  and  the  complete 
restoration  of  the  peace  of  the  country,  he  returned  to 
Edinburgh,  and  pursued  his  studies  there  for  six 
years  longer. 

In  1754,  he  published  at  Edinburgh  a  second  edi- 
Uon  of  his  poems,  very  much  improved  and  enlarged, 
in  8vo,  to  which  was  prefixed,  "  an  Account  of  his 
Life,  in  a  letter  to  the  publisher,"  from  Mr.  Gordon  of 
Dumfries.  On  the  title  page  he  is  designated  "  student 
of  philosophy  in  the  university  of  Edinburgh;"  so 
that  he  was  not  then,  as  Mr.  Mackenzie  supposes, 
"  enrolled  a  student  of  Divinity." 

This  publication  attracted  the  attention  of  Mr. 
Spence,  the  patron  of  Dodsley,  Duck,  and  Richard- 
son, and  of  other  persons  of  indigent  and  uncultivated 
genius,  who  conceived  a  great  regard  for  Blacklock, 
and  formed  the  benevolent  design  of  recommending 
him  to  the  patronage  of  persons  in  affluence  or  power, 
by  writing  a  very  elaborate  and  ingenious  ''Account 
of  his  Life,  Character,  and  Poems,"  which  he  publish- 
ed in  London,  in  8vo.   1754. 

During  his  last  residence  in  Edinburgh,  among 
other  literary  acquaintance,  he  obtained  that  of  the 
celebrated  David  Hume,  who,  with  that  humanity 
and  benevolence  for  which  he  was  distinguished,  at- 
tached himself  warmly  to  Blacklock's  interests.  He 
wrote  a  letter  to  Dodsley,  March  12,  1754,  containing 
a  very  favourable  representation  of  the  "  goodness  of 



his  disposition,  and  the  beauty  of  his  genius/'  which 
contributed  to  promote  the  subscription  for  an  edition 
of  his  poems,  in  4to,  which  was  published  in  London 
in  1756,  under  the  superintendance  of  Mr.  Spence, 
together  with  his  ''  Account  of  the  J  iife.  Character, 
and  Poems  of  Mr.  Blacklock,"  which  had  been  printed 
separately  in  1754.  He  testified  his  obligations  to  Mr. 
Spence,  to  whom  he  was  personally  unknown,  in  an 
epistle  written  at  Dumfries  in  1759. 

In  the  course  of  his  education  at  Edinburgh,  he 
acquired  a  proficiency  in  the  learned  languages,  and 
became  more  a  master  of  the  French  tongue  than  was 
common  there,  from  the  social  intercourse  to  which 
he  had  the  good  fortune  to  be  admitted  in  the  house 
of  Provost  Alexander,  who  had  married  a  native  of 

At  the  university'  he  obtained  a  knowledge  of  the 
various  branches  of  philosophy  and  theology,  to  which 
his  course  of  study  naturally  led;  and  acquired  at 
the  same  time  a  considerable  fund  of  learning  and 
information  in  those  departments  of  science  and 
belles  lettres,  from  which  his  loss  of  sight  did  not 
absolutely  preclude  him.  In  1756,  he  published  at 
Edinburgh,  "  an  Essay  towards  Universal  Etymology, 
or  the  Analysis  of  a  Sentence,"  in  8vo. 

In  this  pamphlet,  the  general  principles  of  gram- 
mar, and  the  definitions  of  the  several  parts  of  speech 
are  given  in  verse;  and  illustrations  in  the  form  of 
notes  constituting  the  greatest  part  of  it,  are  added 
in  prose.  The  notes  and  illustrations  are  concise,  but 
judicious;  the  verses  are  not  remarkable  for  learn- 
ing or  poetical  embellishment;  the  subject    did   not 


allow  it ;  the  concluding  lines,  however,  on  the  ad- 
vantages of  grammar,  are  in  a  style  more  worthy  of 

In  1757,  he  began  a  course  of  study,  with  a  view 
to  give  lectures  on  Oratory  to  young  gentlemen  in- 
tended for  the  bar  or  the  pulpit.  On  this  occasion, 
he  wrote  to  Mr.  Hume,  informed  him  of  his  plan, 
and  requested  his  assistance  in  the  prosecution  of  it. 
But  Mr.  Hume  doubting  the  probability  of  its  success, 
he  abandoned  the  project ;  and  then  adopted  the  de- 
cided intention  of  going  into  the  church. 

After  applying  closely  for  a  considerable  time  to 
the  study  of  theology,  he  passed  the  usual  trials  in 
the  presbytery  of  Dumfries ;  and  was,  by  that  pres- 
bytery, licensed  a  preacher  of  the  gospel  in  1759. 

As  a  preacher,  be  obtained  high  reputation,  and 
was  fond  of  composing  sermons.  In  1760,  when  the 
nation  was  alarmed  l)y  a  threatened  invasion  from  the 
French,  he  published  "The  Right  Improvement  of 
Time,"  a  sermon,  8vo.  He  seems  to  have  imbibed 
pretty  deeply  the  apprehensions  of  his  countrymen. 
The  sentiments  it  contains  are  just  and  solid ;  and  the 
advice  is  calculated  to  be  useful  at  all  times,  particu- 
larly in  the  prospect  of  national  danger  or  distress. 

The  same  year  he  contributed  several  poetical 
pieces  to  the  first  volume  of  Donaldson's  ''Collection 
of  Original  Poems,  by  Scotch  gentlemen,"  12mo. 

Mrs.  Blacklock  ascribes  the  "Epistle  on  Taste," 
printed  in  this  volume  as  Mr.  Gordon's,  to  Blacklock, 
excepting  the  lines  relating  to  himself. 

In  1761,  he  published  "Faith,  Hope,  and  Charity 
compared,"  a  sermon,  8vo.    Though  this  cannot  be 

36  THE    LIFE 

called  a  first  rate  performance,  it  abounds  with  just 
and  elegant  remarks,  and  his  favourite  topic  of  cha- 
rity, is  agreeably  and  forcibly  illustrated. 

In  1762,  he  married  Miss  Sarah  Johnston,  daugh- 
ter of  Mr.  Joseph  Johnston,  surgeon,  in  Dumfries,  a 
man  of  eminence  in  his  profession,  and  of  a  character 
highly  respected  ;  a  connection  which  formed  the 
great  solace  and  blessing  of  his  future  hfe,  and  gave 
him,  with  all  the  tenderness  of  a  wife,  all  the  zealous 
care  of  a  guide  and  friend.  This  event  took  place  a 
few  days  before  his  being  ordained  minister  of  Kirk- 
cudbright, in  consequence  of  a  presentation  from  the 
crown,  obtained  for  him  by  the  Earl  of  Selkirk,  a 
benevolent  nobleman,  whom  Blacklock's  situation  and 
genius  had  interested  in  his  behalf.  But  the  inhabi- 
tants of  the  parish,  whether  from  an  aversion  to 
patronage,  so  prevalent  among  the  lower  ranks  in 
North  Britain  ;  or  from  some  political  disputes  which 
at  that  time  subsisted  between  them  and  Lord  Selkirk; 
or  from  those  prejudices  which  some  of  them  might 
naturally  entertain  against  a  person  deprived  of  sight; 
or  perhaps  from  all  those  causes  united,  were  so  ex- 
tremely disinclined  to  receive  him  as  their  minister, 
that,  after  a  legal  dispute  of  nearly  two  years,  it  was 
thought  expedient  by  his  friends,  as  it  had  always 
been  wished  by  himself,  to  compromise  the  matter,  by 
resigning  his  right  to  the  living,  and  accepting  a  mo- 
derate annuity  in  its  stead. 

The  following  anecdote  of  Blacklock  is  mentioned  in 
Dr.  Cleghorn's  "Thesis  de  Somno."  It  happened  at  the 
inn  in  Kirkcudbiight,  on  the  day  of  his  ordination, 
and  is  authenticated  by  the  testimony  of  Mrs.  Black- 


lock,  who  was  present  with  Mr.  Gordon  and  a  nume- 
rous company  of  his  friends,  who  dined  with  him  on 
the  occasion.  It  merits  notice,  both  as  a  curious  fact 
relative  to  the  state  of  the  mind  in  sleep,  and  on  ac- 
count of  the  just  and  elegant  compliment  with  which 
it  concludes. 

*'Dr.  Blacklock,  one  day,  harrassed  by  the  censures 
of  the  populace,  whereby  not  only  his  reputation  but 
his  very  existence  was  endangered,  and  fatigued  with 
mental  exertion,  fell  asleep  after  dinner.  Some  hours 
after,  he  was  called  upon  by  a  friend,  answered  his 
salutation,  rose  and  went  with  him  into  the  dining 
room,  where  some  of  his  companions  were  met.  He 
joined  with  two  of  them  in  a  concert,  singing,  as 
usual,  with  taste  and  elegance,  without  missing  a  note, 
or  forgetting  a  word ;  he  then  went  to  supper,  and 
drank  a  glass  or  two  of  wine.  His  friends,  however, 
observed  him  to  be  a  little  absent  and  inattentive;  by- 
and-by  he  began  to  speak  to  himself,  but  in  so  low 
and  confused  a  manner  as  to  be  unintelligible.  At 
last,  being  pretty  forcibly  roused,  he  awoke  with  a 
sudden  start,  unconscious  of  all  that  had  happened,  as 
till  then  he  had  continued  fast  asleep."  Dr.  Cleghom 
adds  with  great  truth,  after  relating  this  fact :  "  No 
one  will  suspect  either  the  judgment  or  the  veracity 
of  Dr.  Blacklock.  All  who  knew  him  bear  testimony 
to  his  judgment ;  his  fame  rests  on  a  better  foundation 
than  fictitious  narratives  ;  no  man  more  delights  in,  or 
more  strictly  adheres,  to  the  truth  on  all  points." 

With  a  very  slender  provision,  he  removed,  in  1764, 
to  Edinburgh ;  and  to  make  up  by  his  industry  a  more 
comfortable  and  decent  subsistence,  he  adopted  the 

38  THE    LIFE 

plan  of  receiving  a  certain  number  of  young  gentle- 
men, as  hoarders,  into  his  house;  whose  studies  in  lan- 
guages and  philosophy  he  might,  if  necessary,  assist. 
In  this  situation  he  continued  till  1787;  when  he 
found  his  time  of  life  and  state  of  health  required  a 
degree  of  repose,  which  induced  him  to  discontinue 
the  receiving  of  boarders. 

In  the  occupation  which  he  thus  exercised  for  so 
many  years  of  his  life,  no  teacher  was  perhaps,  ever 
more  agreeable  to  his  pupils,  no  master  of  a  family 
to  its  inmates,  than  Blacklock.  The  gentleness  of  his 
manners,  the  benignity  of  his  disposition,  and  that 
warm  interest  in  the  happiness  of  others,  which  led 
him  so  constantly  to  promote  it,  were  qualities  that 
could  not  fail  to  procure  him  the  love  and  regard  of  the 
young  gentlemen  committed  to  his  charge  ;  while  the 
society,  which  esteem  and  respect  for  his  character  and 
genius  often  assembled  at  his  house,  afforded  them 
an  advantage  rarely  to  be  found  in  establishments  of 
a  similar  kind.  In  the  circle  of  his  friends,  he  ap- 
peared entirely  to  forget  the  privation  of  sight,  and  the 
melancholy  which  at  other  times  it  might  produce. 

He  entered,  with  the  cheerful  playfulness  of  a 
voung  man,  into  all  the  sprightly  narrative,  the  spor- 
tive fancy,  and  the  humorous  jest  that  rose  around 
him.  It  was  highly  gratifying  to  philanthropy,  to 
see  how  much  a  mind  endowed  with  knowledge, 
kindled  by  genius,  and  above  all  lighted  up  with  inno- 
cence and  piety  like  Blacklock's,  could  overcome  the 
weight  of  its  own  calamity,  and  enjoy  the  content,  the 
happiness,  and  the  gaiety  of  others.  Several  of  those 
inmates  of  his  house  were  students  of  physic  from 


England,  Ireland,  and  America,  who  retained,  in  fu- 
ture life,  all  the  warmth  of  that  impression  which  his 
friendship  at  this  early  period  had  made  upon  them  ; 
and  in  various  quarters  of  the  world  he  had  friends  and 
correspondents,  from  whom  no  length  of  time  nor 
distance  of  place,  had  ever  estranged  him.  Among  his 
favourite  correspondents  may  be  reckoned  Dr.  Tuck- 
er, Author  of  "The  Bermudian,"  a  poem,  and  "  The 
Anchoret ;  "  and  Dr.  Downman,  author  of  **  Infancy" 
a  poem,  and  other  ingenious  performances. 

In  1766,  upon  the  unsolicited  recommendation  of 
his  friend  Dr.  Beattie,  the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Divi- 
nity was  conferred  on  him  by  the  University  of  Aber- 

In  1767,  he  published  '^  Paraclesis,  or  Consolation 
deduced  from  Natural  and  Revealed  Religion,"  in  two 
dissertations.  The  first,  supposed  to  have  been  com- 
posed by  Cicero,  now  rendered  into  English  ;  the  last 
originally  written  by  Thomas  Blacklock,  D.D.  in  8vo. 

His  motive  (he  tells,  in  a  letter  to  a  friend  pre- 
fixed to  this  work,)  for  translating  the  first,  and  writing 
the  last  treatise  on  Consolation  was  to  alleviate  the 
pressure  of  repeated  disappointments,  to  soothe  his 
anguish  for  the  loss  of  departed  friends,  to  elude  the 
rage  of  implacable  and  unprovoked  enemies,  and  to 
support  his  own  mind,  which  for  a  number  of  years, 
besides  its  literary  difficulties,  and  its  natural  disad- 
vantages, had  maintained  an  incessant  struggle  with 
fortune.  Of  the  Dissertation  ascribed  to  Cicero,  he 
endeavours  to  prove  the  authenticity ;  but  his  argu- 
ments are  by  no  means  satisfactory.  The  generality 
of  critics  have  questioned  its  authenticity.  Dr. 

40  THE   LIFE 

Middleton,  in  his  Life  of  Cicero,  says  it  is  undoubt- 
edly spurious.  The  translation  is  well  executed  ;  it  is 
both  faithful  and  elegant.  The  second  Dissertation 
is  mostly  taken  up  with  a  clear  and  succinct  view  of 
the  evidence  of  Christianity,  the  professed  subject  of 
it ;  the  consolation  derived  from  revealed  religion  is 
touched  upon  towards  the  conclusion,  though  at  no 
great  length. 

In  1768,  he  published,  without  his  name,  two 
Discourses  on  the  Spirit  and  Evidences  of  Christian- 
ity. The  former  preached  at  the  Hague,  the  8th  Se]). 
1762 ;  the  latter  delivered  in  the  French  Church  at 
Hanau,  on  the  occasion  of  the  late  peace,  to  a  coji- 
gregation  composed  of  Catholics  and  Protestants. 
It  was  translated  from  the  original  French  of  the  Rev. 
James  Armand,  Minister  of  the  Walloon  Church 
in  Hanau,  and  dedicated  by  the  translator  to  the  Rev. 
Moderator  of  the  General  Assembly.  The  Dedi- 
cation, which  is  a  long  one,  is  chiefly  intended  for 
the  perusal  of  the  Clergy  of  the  church  of  Scotland, 
but  deserves  the  attentive  consideration  of  all  who  are 
intended  for,  or  engaged,  in  the  work  of  the  ministry. 
The  observations  it  contains  are  judicious  and  perti- 
nent ;  the  style  is  sjDrightly  and  animated ;  and  the 
spirit  it  breathes,  though  sometimes  remote  from  that 
charity  which  on  other  occasions  he  so  eloquently 
enforced  and  so  generally  practised,  is  the  spirit  of 
benevolence  and  love  to  mankind.  The  discourses 
themselves  are  Hvely  and  animated,  and  the  style  of 
the  translations  clear,  nervous,  and  spirited. 

In  1773,  he  pubhshed  at  Edinburgh  a  poem  enti- 
tled, "  A  Panegyric  on  Great  Britain,"  in  8vo.    This 


poem,  which  is  a  kind  of  satire  on  the  age,  exhibits 
shrewdness  of  observation,  and  a  sarcastic  vein,  which 
might  have  fitted  him  for  satirical  composition,  had  he 
chosen  to  employ  his  pen  more  frequently  on  that 
branch  of  poetry. 

In  music,  both  as  a  judge  and  a  performer,  his 
skill  was  considerable;  nor  was  he  unacquainted  with 
its  principles  as  a  science.  Whether  he  composed 
much  is  uncertain,  but  there  is  published  in  the 
Edinburgh  Magazine  and  Review,  for  1774,  "  Ab- 
sence," a  Pastoral,  set  to  music  by  Dr.  Blacklock; 
and  those  who  have  heard  him  sing  will,  upon  perusal 
of  this  little  piece,  have  the  idea  of  his  manner  and 
taste  strikingly  recalled  to  their  recollection. 

The  same  year  he  published  the  "  Graham,"  a 
heroic  ballad,  in  four  Cantos,  4to.  It  was  begun, 
he  tells  us  in  the  advertisement  prefixed  to  it,  and 
pursued  by  its  author  to  divert  wakeful  and  melancholy 
hours,  which  the  recollection  of  past  misfortunes,  and 
the  sense  of  present  inconveniences,  would  otherwise 
have  severely  embittered. 

The  professed  intention  of  his  "  Graham,"  is  to 
cherish  and  encourage  a  mutual  harmony  between  the 
inhabitants  of  South  and  North  Britain.  To  this  end 
he  has  exhibited,  in  strong  colours,  some  parts  of 
those  miseries  which  their  ancient  animosities  had 
occasioned.  His  "  Graham"  is  an  affecting  story,  in 
which  love  and  jealousy  have  a  principal  share.  The 
narration  is  animated  and  agreeable ;  the  fable  is 
beautifully  fancied,  and  suflBciently  perspicuous ;  the 
characters  are  boldly  marked  ;  the  manners  he  paints 
suit  the  times  to  which  he  refers,  and  the  moral  is 
E  3 

42  THE    LIFE 

momentous  We  perceive,  scattered  through  the 
whole  piece,  those  secret  graces,  and  those  bewitching 
beauties,  which  tlie  critic  would  in  vain  attempt  to 
describe ;  but  it  is  perhaps  too  far  spun  out,  and  the 
stanza  in  which  it  is  written  is  not  the  best  chosen 
nor  the  most  agreeable  to  the  ear. 

This  was  the  last  publication  which  he  gave  to  the 
world  with  his  name  :  from  this  time  the  state  of  his 
heallh,  which  had  always  been  infirm  and  delicate, 
began  visibly  to  decline.  He  frequently  complained 
of  lowness  of  spirits,  and  was  occasionally  subject  to 
deafness,  which,  though  he  seldom  fell  it  in  any  great 
degree,  was  sufBcient,  in  his  situation,  to  whom  the 
sense  of  hearing  was  almost  the  only  channel  of  com- 
munication with  the  external  world,  to  cause  very 
lively  uneasiness.  Amidst  indisposition  of  body, 
however,  and  disquietude  of  mind,  the  gentleness  of 
his  temper  never  forsook  him,  and  he  felt  all  that 
resignation  and  confidence  in  the  Supreme  Being, 
which  his  earliest  and  latest  life  equally  acknowledged. 
In  summer,  1791,  he  was  seized  with  a  feverish  dis- 
order, which  at  first  seemed  of  a  slight,  and  never 
rose  to  a  very  violent  kind ;  but  a  frame  so  little 
robust  as  his  was  not  able  to  resist ;  and  after  about  a 
week's  illness  it  carried  him  off  on  the  7th  of  July, 
1791,  in  the  70th  year  of  his  age.  He  was  interred 
in  the  burying-ground  of  the  Chapel  of  Ease,  in  the 
parish  of  St.  Cuthbert,  where  a  decent  monument  was 
erected  to  his  memory  by  his  widow,  who  survived 
him  several  years.  There  is  something  in  the  charac- 
ter of  this  gi-eat  man,  which  the  good  will  value  above 
every  other  consideration ;  that  was,  his  deep  and  un- 


affected  piety,  and  his  resignation  to  the  Divine  will ; 
which  was  evinced  through  his  long  and  useful  life, 
and  shone  conspicuously  in  the  man  and  in  the  chris- 
tian, and  added  an  additional  lustre  to  his  other 

The  article  Blind,  in  the  Encyclopaedia  Britannica, 
puhHshed  at  Edinburgh  in  the  year  1783,  was  writ- 
ten by  him.  In  this  little  treatise,  (which  I  will 
venture  to  recommend,  not  only  on  account  of  its  pe- 
culiarity, as  being  the  production  of  a  blind  man,  bu 
of  its  intrinsic  merit,)  there  are  no  marks  of  any  ex- 
traordinary conception  of  visible  objects,  nor  any  al- 
lusion to  those  mental  images  whicn  ingenuity  might 
suppose  (leducible  from  the  descriptive  passages  with 
which  his  poetry  abounds.  It  contains  chiefly  reflec- 
tions on  the  distresses  and  disadvantages  of  blindness, 
and  the  best  means  of  alleviating  them  :  directions 
for  the  education  of  the  blind,  and  a  description  of 
various  inventions  for  enabling  them  to  attain  and  to 
practise  several  arts  and  sciences,  from  which  their 
situation  might  seem  to  exclude  them.  The  sympa- 
thy and  active  benevolence  of  Blacklock  prompted 
him  to  this  composition,  as  well  as  to  a  translation  of 
M.  Hauy's  Account  of  the  charitable  Institution  for 
the  blind  at  Paris.  "  To  the  blind,"  (says  this  article 
in  the  Encycloptfidia,)  "  the  visible  world  is  totally 
annihilated  :  he  is  perfectly  conscious  of  no  space  but 
that  in  which  he  stands,  or  to  which  his  extremities 
can  reach.  All  the  various  modes  of  delicate  propor- 
tion, all  the  beautiful  varieties  of  light  and  colours, 
whether  exhibited  in  the  works  of  nature  or  art,  are 
to  the  blind  irretrievably  lost !    Dependent  for  every 

44  THE   LIFE 

thing,  but  mere  existence,  on  the  good  ofBces  of 
others;  from  every  point  obnoxious  to  injury,  which 
they  are  neither  capacitated  to  perceive,  nor  quali- 
fied to  resist ;  they  are,  during  the  present  state  of 
being,  rather  to  he  considered  as  prisoners  at  large, 
than  citizens  of  nature."  In  that  part  which  relates 
to  the  education  of  the  blind,  one  direction  is  rather 
singular,  though  it  seems  extremely  proper. 

The  author  strongly   recommends  to  their  parents 
and  relations  to  accustom  them  to  an  early  exertion 
of  their  own   active  powers,  though  at  a  risk  of  their 
personal  safety.     "  Parents  and  relations  ought  never 
to  be  too  ready  in  offering  their  assistance  to  the  blind 
in  any  office  which  they  can  perform,  or  in   any  ac- 
quisition   which  they    can    procure    for    themselves, 
whether  they  are  prompted  by  amusement  or  necessi- 
ty.      Let  a  blind  boy  be  permitted  to  walk  through 
the  neighbourhood  without  a  guide,  not  only  though 
he  should   run  some  hazard,    but  even   though   he 
should  suffer  some  pain.    If  he  has  a  mechanical  turn, 
let  him  not  be  denied  the  use  of  edged  tools ;  for  it  is 
better  that  he  should  lose  a  little  blood,  or  even  break 
a  bone,  than  be  perpetually   confined  to   the  same 
place,  debilitated  in  his  frame,  and  depressed  in  his 
mind.     Such  a  being  can  have   no  enjoyment  but  to 
feel  his  own  weakness,  and  become  his  own  tormentor; 
or  to  transfer  to  others  all  the  malignity  and  peevish- 
ness arising  from  the  natural,  adventitious,  or  imagina- 
ry evils  which  he  feels.     Scars,  fractures,  and  dislo- 
cations in  his  body,  are  trivial  misfortunes  compared 
with  imbecility,  timidity,  or  fretfulness  of  mind.     Be- 
sides the  sensible  and  dreadful  effects  which  inactivity 


must  have  in  relaxing  the  nerves,  and  consequently 
in  depressing  the  spirits,  nothing  can  he  more  produc- 
tive of  jealousy,  envy,  peevishness  and  every  passion 
that  corrodes  the  soul  to  agony,  than  a  painful  impres- 
sion of  dependence  on  others,  and  of  our  insufficiency 
to  our  own  happiness.  This  impression,  which  even 
in  his  most  improved  state,  will  be  too  deeply  felt  by 
every  blind  man,  is  redoubled  by  that  utter  incapa- 
city of  action,  which  must  result  from  the  officious 
humanity  of  those  who  would  anticipate  or  supply  all 
his  wants,  who  would  prevent  all  his  motions,  who 
would  do  or  procure  every  thing  for  him  without  his 
own  interposition." 

This  direction  was  ])rohably  suggested  from  the 
author's  own  feeUng  of  the  want  of  that  boldness  and 
independence,  which  the  means  it  recommends  are 
calculated  to  produce.* 

"  If  you  talk  to  a  blind  boy  of  invisible  beings,  let 
benevolence  be  an  inseparable  ingredient  in  their 
character.  You  may,  if  you  please,  tell  him  of  de- 
parted spirits,  anxious  for  the  welfare  of  their  survi- 
ving friends ;  of  ministering  angels,  who  descend 
with  pleasure  from  Heaven  to  execute  the  purposes 
of  their  Maker's  benignity  ;  you  may  even  regale  his 

*"If  the  limbs  of  your  blind  child  or  pupil  are  tremulous;  if 
he  is  apt  to  start,  and  is  easily  susceptible  of  surprise;  if  he  finds 
it  difficult  to  sleep ;  if  his  slumbers,  when  commenced,  are  fre- 
quently interrupted,  and  attended  with  perturbation;  if  his 
ordinary  exercise  appears  to  him  more  terrible  and  more  insu- 
perable than  usual;  if  his  appetite  becomes  languid,  and  his 
digestion  slow ;  if  agreeable  occurrences  give  him  less  pleasure 
and  adverse  events  more  pain  than  they  ought  to  inspire  this 
is  the  crisis  of  vigorous  interposition." 

46  THE    LIFE 

imagination  with  the  sportive  gambols  and  innocent 
frolics  of  fairies  ;  but  let  him  hear  as  seldom  as  possi- 
ble, even  in  stories  which  he  knows  to  be  fabulous,  of 
vindictive  ghosts,  vindictive  fiends,  or  avenging  fu- 
ries. They  seize  and  pre-occupy  every  avenue  of 
terror  which  is  open  in  the  soul,  nor  are  they  easily 
dispossessed.  Sooner  should  we  hope  to  exorcise  a 
ghost,  or  appease  a  fury,  than  to  obliterate  their 
images  in  a  w^arm  and  susceptible  imagination,  w^here 
they  have  been  habitually  impressed,  and  where  those 
feelings  cannot  be  dissipated  by  external  phenomena. 
If  horrors  of  this  kind  should  agitate  the  heart  of  a 
blind  bo3%  (which  may  happen,  notwithstanding  the 
most  strenuous  endeavours  to  prevent  it,)  the  stories 
which  he  has  heard  will  be  most  effectually  discredited 
by  ridicule.  This,  however,  must  be  cautiously  ap- 
plied, by  gentle  and  delicate  gradations." 

The  following  descriptive  strokes,  most  of  which, 
with  a  great  many  others,  Mr.  Spence  has  collected, 
are  as  finely  drawn,  and  as  justly  coloured  as  sight 
could  have  made  them. 

"  Mild  gleams  the  purple  evening  o'er  the  plain." 

"  Ye  vales,  which  to  the  raptured  eye, 
Disclosed  the  flowery  pride  of  May ; 
Ye  circling  hills,  whose  summits  high, 
Blushed  with  the  morning's  earliest  ray." 

"  Let  long-lived  pansies  here  their  scents  bestow, 
The  violets  languish  and  the  roses  glow ; 
In  yellow  glory  let  the  crocus  shine — 
Narcissus  here  his  love-sick  head  recline  j 
Here  hyacinths  in  purple  sweetness  rise, 
And  tulips  tinged  with  beauty's  fairest  dyes." 


"  On  rising  ground,  the  prospect  to  command, 
Untinged  with  smoke,  where  vernal  breezes  blow, 
In  rural  neatness  let  thy  cottage  stand  ; 
Here  wave  a  wood,  and  there  a  river  flow." 

**  Oft  on  the  glassy  stream,  with  raptured  eyes, 
Surveys  her  form  in  mimic  sweetness  rise; 
Oft  as  the  waters  pleased  reflect  her  face, 
Adjusts  her  locks,  and  heightens  every  grace." 

"  Oft  while  the  Sun 

Darts  boundless  gloiy  through  the  expanse  of  Heaven, 

A  gloom  of  congregated  vapours  rise  ; 

Than  night  more  dreadful  in  his  blackest  shroud, 

And  o'er  the  face  of  things  incumbent  hang, 

Portending  tempest;  till  the  source  of  day 

Again  asserts  the  empire  of  the  sky, 

And  o'er  the  blotted  scene  of  nature  throws 

A  keener  splendour." 

In  producing  such  passages  as  the  above,  the 
genius  of  the  author  must  be  acknowledged.  What- 
ever idea  or  impression  those  objects  of  sight  produced 
in  his  mind,  how  imperfect  soever  that  idea,  or  how 
different  soever  from  the  true,  still  the  impression 
would  be  felt  by  a  mind  susceptible  and  warm  like 
Blacklock's,  that  could  not  have  been  so  felt  by  one 
of  a  coarser  and  more  sluggish  mouhl.  Even  the 
memory  that  could  treasure  up  the  poetical  attributes 
and  expressions  of  such  objects,  must  have  been  assist- 
ed and  prompted  by  poetical  feeling ;  and  the  very 
catalogue  of  words  which  was  thus  ready  at  command, 
was  an  indication  of  that  ardour  of  soul,  which,  from 
his  infancy,  led  him, — 

-"Where  the  Muses  haunt — 

Smitwith  the  love  of  sacred  song." 

48  THE    LIFE 

As  the  unmeaning  s}'llables  which  compose  a  name 
give  to  the  lover  or  the  friend  emotions,  which  in 
others  it  were  impossible  they  should  excite,  it  was 
not  on  the  whole  surprising,  that  a  learned  foreigner, 
on  considering  Blacklock's  Poems  relatively  to  his 
situation,  should  have  broken  out  into  the  following 
panegyric,  with  which  I  shall  not  be  much  accused 
of  partiality  if  I  close  this  account. 

''  Blacklock  will  appear  to  posterity  a  fable,  as  to 
us  he  is  a  prodigy.  It  will  be  thought  a  fiction,  a 
paradox,  that  a  man  blind  from  his  infancy,  besides 
having  made  himself  so  much  a  master  of  various 
foreign  languages,  should  be  a  great  Poet  in  his  own ; 
and  without  having  hardly  ever  seen  the  light,  should 
be  so  remarkably  happy  in  description." 


Anderson's  Lives  of   the   Poets — Mackenzie's   Life   of 
Blacklock — Spence's  Life  of  Blacklock. 




L.L.D.  F.R.S. 
And  Professor  of  Mathematics  in  the  University  of  Cambridge. 

"  Here  Nature  opens  all  her  secret  springs, 

And  heaven-bom  Science  plumes  her  eagle  wings." 

There  is  no  department  of  human  knowledge,  in 
which  the  blind  have  not  distinguished  themselves; 
many  of  them  have  attained  the  highest  academical 
honours  that  their  own,  or  foreign  Universities,  could 
confer  upon  them.  It  is  certainly  a  spectacle  highly 
gratifying  to  the  benevolent  mind,  to  contemplate  such 
men,  eliciting  light  from  darkness  ;  and  to  learn  by 
what  progressive  steps  they  have  been  enabled  to  make 
their  way  through  life,  in  despite  of  the  most  discou- 
raging obstacles,  with  no  other  guide  but  industry  and 
genius,  even  to  the  very  summit  of  science.  Dr. 
Saunderson,  the  subject  of  the  present  essay,  was  a 
striking  proof  of  the  justness  of  the  above  remarks. 

This  great  man  was  bora  at  Thurlston,  in  York- 
shire, in  1682.  When  he  was  but  12  months  old  he 
lost  not  only  his  eye  sight,  but  even  his  very  eye- 
balls, by  the  small  pox,  so  that  he  could  retain  no 

50  THE    LIFE 

more  ideas  of  vision,  tlian  if  he  had  been  born  blind. 
At  an  early  age,  however,  being  of  very  promising 
abilities,  he  was  sent  to  the  free  school  at  Pennistone  ; 
and  there  laid  the  foundation  of  that  knowledge  of  the 
Greek  and  Latin  languages,  which  he  afterwards  im- 
])roved  so  far  by  his  own  application  to  the  Classic 
Authors,  as  to  hear  the  works  of  Euclid,  Archimedes, 
and  Diophantes,  read  in  the  original  Greek. 

Having  acquired  a  grammatical  education,  his 
father,  who  was  in  the  excise,  instructed  him  in  the 
common  rules  of  arithmetic  ;  and  here  it  was  that  his 
excellent  mathematical  genius  first  appeared.  He 
very  soon  became  able  to  work  the  common  questions; 
to  make  very  long  calculations  by  the  strength  of 
memory ;  and  to  form  new  rules  for  himself,  for  the 
better  resolving  of  such  questions  as  are  often  propo- 
sed to  learners  as  trials  of  skill.  At  the  age  of  1 8, 
our  author  was  introduced  to  Richard  West,  Esq.  of 
Underbank,  who,  being  a  great  lover  of  mathematics, 
and  observing  Saunderson's  uncommon  capacity,  took 
the  trouble  of  instructing  him  in  the  principles  of 
algebra  and  geometry,  and  gave  him  every  encou- 
ragement in  his  power  to  the  prosecution  of  these 
studies.  Soon  after  this,  he  became  acquainted  also 
with  Dr.  Nettleton,  who  took  the  same  pains  with 
him  ;  and  it  was  to  these  two  gentlemen  that  Saun- 
derson  owed  his  first  instruction  in  mathematical 
science.  They  famished  him  with  books,  and  often 
read  and  explained  them  to  him ;  but  he  soon  sur- 
passed his  masters,  and  became  fitter  to  teach,  than  to 
learn  from  them.  He  was  now  sent  to  a  private  academy 
at  Atterclifie,  near  Sheffield,  where  logic  and  meta- 


physics  were  chiefly  taught;  but  these  sciences  not 
suiting  his  turn  of  mind,  he  soon  left  the  academy. 
He  lived  for  some  time  in  the  country  without  any 
instructor,  but  such  was  the  vigour  of  his  own  mind 
that  kw  instructions  were  necessary ;  he  only  required 
books  and  a  reader.  His  father,  besides  the  place  he 
had  in  the  excise,  possessed  also  a  small  property  ; 
but  being  burdened  with  a  numerous  family,  and 
finding  a  difficulty  in  supporting  him,  his  friends 
began  to  think  of  providing  both  for  his  education 
and  maintenance ;  and  having  remarked  his  clear  and 
perspicuous  manner  of  communicating  his  ideas,  sug- 
gested the  propriety  of  his  attending  the  University 
of  Cambridge,  as  a  teacher  of  mathematics,  to  which 
his  own  inclination  strongly  led  him.  Accordingly 
he  went  to  Cambridge  in  1707,  being  then  25  years 
of  age,  accompanied  by  Joshua  Dunn,  Fellow  Com- 
moner of  Christ's  College.  His  fame  in  a  short 
time  filled  the  University,  and  though  he  was  not 
acknowledged  a  member  of  the  College,  yet  he  was 
treated  with  great  attention  and  respect ;  he  was 
allowed  a  chamber,  and  had  free  access  to  the  library. 
Mr.  Whision  was  at  that  time  professor  of  mathema- 
tics ;  and  as  he  read  lectures  in  the  way  that  Saunder- 
son  intended,  it  was  to  be  expected  that  he  would 
view  his  project  as  an  invasion  of  his  office.  But 
being  a  good  natured  man,  and  a  lover  of  learning. 
Instead  of  meditating  any  opposition,  the  plan  was  no 
sooner  mentioned  to  him,  than  he  freely  gave  his  con- 
sent in  behalf  of  so  uncommon  a  genius.  While  thus 
employed  in  explaining  the  principles  of  the  New- 
tonian Philosophy,  he  became  acquainted  with  its 

52  THE    LIFE 

illustrious  author.  He  was  also  known  to  Halley, 
Cotes,  Dr.  Moore,  and  many  other  eminent  mathe- 

Upon  the  removal  of  Mr.  Whiston  from  his  pro- 
fessorship, Saunderson's  merit  was  thought  so  much 
superior  to  that  of  any  other  competitor,  that  an  ex- 
traordinary step  was  taken  in  his  favour,  to  qualify 
him  as  the  statutes  require.  The  heads  of  the  Uni- 
versity applied  to  their  Chancellor,  the  Duke  of 
Somerset,  who  procured  the  Royal  Mandate  to  confer 
on  him  the  degree  of  A.M;  in  consequence  of  which, 
he  was  elected  Lucasian  professor  of  mathematics  in 
Nov.  1711,  Sir  Isaac  Newton  interesting  himself 
much  on  the  occasion.  His  inauguration  speech  was 
composed  in  classical  Latin,  and  in  the  style  of 
Cicero,  with  whose  works  he  had  been  much  conver- 
sant. From  this  time  he  applied  himself  closely  to 
the  reading  of  lectures,  and  gave  up  his  whole  time  to 
his  pupils.  He  continued  to  reside  among  the  gentle- 
men of  Christ's  College,  till  the  year  1723,  when  he 
took  a  house  in  Cambridge.  He  shortly  afterwards 
manied  the  daughter  of  the  Rev.  Mr.  Dickens,  Rec- 
tor of  Boxworth,  in  Cambridgeshire,  by  whom  he  had 
a  son  and  a  daughter.  When  George  the  II.  in  1728, 
visited  the  University,  he  requested  to  see  Professor 
Saunderson.  In  compliance  with  this  desire,  he  waited 
on  his  Majesty  in  the  Senate  House,  and  was  then  by 
the  King's  command  created  Doctor  of  Laws.  He 
was  admitted  a  member  of  the  Royal  Society,  in  1736. 

Dr.  Saunderson  was  naturally  of  a  vigorous  aud 
healthy  constitution  ;  but  having  confined  himself  to 
a  sedentary  life,  he  at  length  became  scorbutic ;  in 
the  spring  of  1739,  he  complained  of  a  numbness 


in  his  limbs,  which  ended  in  a  mortification  in  his 
foot,  and  unfortunately  his  blood  was  so  vitiated  by 
the  scurvy,  that  assistance  from  medicine  was  not  to 
be  expected.  When  informed  that  his  death  was 
approaching,  he  remained  for  a  short  time  calm  and 
silent ;  but  he  soon  recovered  his  former  vivacity,  and 
conversed  with  his  accustomed  ease.  He  died  on  the 
19th  April,  1739,  aged  57  years,  and  was  buried  at 
his^own  request  in  the  chancel  of  Boxworth. 

Dr.  Reid,  who  was  an  intimate  friend  of  Saunder- 
son,  in  speaking  of  his  scientific  acquirements,  ob- 
serves, "  One  who  never  saw  the  light,  may  be  learned 
and  knowing  in  every  science,  even  in  optics ;  and 
may  make  discoveries  in  every  branch  of  philosophy. 
He  may  understand  as  much  as  another  man,  not  only 
of  the  order,  distances,  and  motions  of  the  heavenly 
bodies,  but  of  the  nature  of  lisrht,  and  of  the  laws  of 
the  reflection  and  refraction  of  its  rays.  He  may  un- 
derstand distinctly  how  those  laws  produce  the  phe- 
nomena of  the  rainbow,  the  prism,  the  camera  obscura, 
the  magic  lantern,  and  all  the  powers  of  the  mi- 
croscope and  telescope.  This  is  a  fact  sufficiently 
attested  by  experience." 

"  Dr.  Saunderson  understood  the  projection  of  the 
sphere,  and  the  common  rules  of  perspective,  and  if 
he  did,  he  must  have  understood  all  that  I  have  men- 
tioned. If  there  were  any  doubt  of  Dr.  Saunderson's 
understanding  these  things,  I  could  mention  having 
heard  him  say  in  conversation,  that  he  found  great 
difficulty  in  understanding  Dr.  Halley's  demonstration 
of  that  proposition, — that  the  angles  made  by  the 
circles  of  the  sphere,  are  equal  to  the  angles  made  by 

54  THE    LIFE 

their  representatives  in  the  stereographic  projection. 
'But/  said  he,  'when  I  laid  aside  that  demonstration, 
and  considered  the  proposition  in  my  own  way,  I  saw 
clearly  that  it  must  be  true.'  Another  gentleman,  of 
undoubted  credit  and  judgment  in  these  matters,  who 
had  part  in  this  conversation,  remembers  it  distinctly," 

Saunderson  we  are  told,  though  blind,  could  lecture 
on  the  prismatic  spectrum,  and  on  the  theory  of  the 
rainbow.  It  is  even  conceivable,  that  by  long  habits 
of  poetical  reading,  he  might  have  become  capable  of 
producing  such  a  description  of  their  order  in  the 
spectrum,  as  is  contained  in  the  following  lines  of 

There  was  scarcely  any  part  of  the  science  on  which 
he  had  not  composed  something;  but  he  discovered 
no  intention  of  publishing  any  thing,  till,  by  the  per- 
suasion of  his  friends,  he  prepared  his  "Elements  of 
Algebra"  for  the  press ;  which  was  published  by  sub- 
scription in  two  volumes,  4to,  1740. 

He  left  many  other  writings,  though  none  perhaps 
prepared  for  the  press  ;  among  these  were  some  valu- 
able comments  on  Newton's  Principia,  which  not  only 

"  First,  the  flaming  red 

Sprung  vivid  forth ;  the  tawny  orange  next, 
And  next  delicious  yellow,  by  whose  side 
Fell  the  kind  beams  of  all  refreshing  green; 
Then  the  pure  blue  that  swells  autumnal  skies. 
Ethereal  played,  and  then  of  sadder  hue, 
Emerged  and  deepened  indigo,  as  when 
The  heavy-skirted  evening  droops  with  frost, 
While  the  last  gleamings  of  refracted  light, 
Died  in  the  fainting  violet  away." 


explain  the  more  difficult  parts,  but  often  improve 
upon  the  doctrines.  These  are  published  in  Latin,  at 
the  end  of  his  posthumous  "  Treatise  on  Fluxions,"  a 
valuable  work,  published  in  8vo,  1756. 

His  manuscript  Lectures  too,  on  most  parts  of  na- 
tural philosophy,  might  make  a  considerable  volume, 
and  prove  an  acceptable  present  to  the  public,  if 

Dr.  Saunderson,  as  to  his  character,  was  a  man  of 
much  wit  and  vivacity  in  conversation,  and  esteemed 
an  excellent  companion.  He  was  endued  with  a  gi'eat 
regard  to  truth,  and  was  such  an  enemy  to  disguise, 
that  he  thought  it  his  duty  to  speak  his  thoughts  at  all 
times  with  unrestrained  freedom.  Hence  his  senti- 
ments on  men  and  opinions,  his  friendship,  or  disre- 
gard, were  expressed  without  reserve;  a  sincerity 
which  raised  him  many  enemies.  A  blind  man  mov- 
ing in  the  sphere  of  a  mathematician,  seems  to  be  a 
phenomenon  difficult  to  be  accounted  for,  and  has  ex- 
cited the  admiration  of  every  age  in  which  it  has  ap- 
peai'ed.  Tully  mentions  it  as  a  thing  scarcely  credi- 
ble of  his  own  master  in  philosophy,  Diodotus,  that 
he  exercised  himself  in  it  with  more  assiduity  after 
he  became  blind;  and,  what  he  thought  next  to  im- 
possible to  be  done  without  sight,  that  he  professed 
geometry,  describing  his  diagrams  so  exactly  to  his 
scholars,  that  they  could  draw  every  line  in  its  proper 
direction.  But  if  we  consider  that  the  ideas  of  ex- 
tended quantity,  which  are  the  chief  objects  of  ma- 
thematics, may  as  well  be  acquired  by  the  sense  of 
touch,  as  by  that  of  sight;  that  a  fixed  and  steady- 
attention  is  the  principal  qualification  for  this  study. 

56  THE    LIFE 

and  that  the  blind  are,  by  necessity,  more  abstracted 
than  others,  (for  which  reason  it  is  said,  that  Demo- 
critus  put  out  his  eyes  that  he  might  think  more  in- 
tensely,) we  shall  perhaps  find  reason  to  suppose  that 
there  is  no  branch  of  science  so  much  adapted  to  their 
circumstances.  At  first.  Dr.  Saunderson  acquired  most 
of  his  ideas  by  the  sense  of  touch ;  and  this,  as  is 
commonly  the  case  with  the  blind,  he  enjoyed  in  gi'eat 
jDerfection.  Yet  he  could  not,  as  some  are  said  to 
have  done,  distinguish  colours  by  that  sense ;  for 
after  having  made  repeated  trials,  he  used  to  say,  it 
was  pretending  to  impossibilites.  But  he  could  with 
great  nicety  and  exactness  perceive  the  smallest  degree 
of  roughness,  or  defect  of  polish,  on  a  surface  ;  thus, 
in  a  set  of  Roman  medals  he  distinguished  the  genuine 
from  the  false,  though  they  had  been  counterfeited 
with  such  exactness,  as  to  deceive  a  connoisseur  w^ho 
had  judged  from  the  eye.  By  the  sense  of  touch  also, 
he  distinguished  the  least  variation ;  and  he  has  been 
seen  in  a  garden,  when  observations  were  making 
on  the  sun,  to  take  notice  of  every  cloud  that  inter- 
rupted the  observation,  almost  as  justly  as  others  could 
see  it.  He  could  also  tell  when  any  thing  was  held 
near  his  face,  or  when  he  passed  by  a  tree  at  no  great 
distance,  merely  hy  the  different  impulse  of  the  air  on 
his  face.  His  ear  was  also  equally  exact ;  he  could 
readily  distinguish  the  fourth  part  of  a  note  by  the 
quickness  of  this  sense ;  and  could  judge  of  the  size  of 
a  room,  and  of  his  distance  from  the  wall.  And  if  he 
ever  walked  over  a  pavement  in  courts  or  piazzas 
which  reflected  sound,  and  was  afterwards  conducted 
thither  again,  he  could  tell  in  what  part  of  the  walk  he 


had  stood,  merely  by  the  note  it  sounded.  Dr.  Saun- 
derson  had  a  peculiar  method  of  performing  arithme- 
tical calculations,  by  an  ingenious  machine  and  me- 
thod, which  has  been  called  his  "  Palpable  Arithmetic, 
and  is  particularly  described  in  a  piece  prefixed  to  the 
first  volume  of  his  Algebra.  That  he  was  able  to  make 
long  and  intricate  calculations,  both  arithmetical  and 
algebraical,  is  a  thing  as  certain  as  it  is  wonderful. 
He  had  contrived  for  his  own  use,  a  commodious  no- 
tation for  any  large  numbers,  which  he  could  express 
on  his  abacus,  or  calculating  table  ;  and  with  which  he 
could  readily  perform  any  arithmetical  operation  by 
the  sense  of  touch  only,  for  which  reason  it  was  called 
his  "Palpable  Arithmetic." 

His  calculating  table  was  a  thin  smooth  board,  a 
little  more  than  a  foot  square,  raised  upon  a  small 
frame  so  as  to  lie  hollow ;  which  board  was  divided 
into  a  great  number  of  little  squares  by  lines  intersect- 
ing one  another  perpendicularly,  and  parallel  to  the 
sides  of  the  table,  and  the  parallel  lines  only  one 
tenth  of  an  inch  from  each  other,  so  that  every  square 
inch  of  the  table  was  thus  divided  into  one  hundred 
little  squares. 

At  every  point  of  intersection,  the  board  was  per- 
forated by  small  holes,  capable  of  receiving  a  pin ; 
for  it  was  by  the  help  of  pins  stuck  up  to  the  head 
through  these  holes,  that  he  expressed  his  numbers. 
He  used  two  sorts  of  pins,  a  larger  and  a  smaller  sort ; 
at  least,  their  heads  were  different,  and  might  easily 
be  distinguished  by  touch.  Of  these  pins  he  had  a 
large  quantity  in  two  boxes,  with  their  points  cutoif, 
which  always  stood  ready  before  him  when  he  calcu- 

58  THE    LIFE 

lated.  The  writer  of  that  account  desciibes  particu- 
larly the  whole  process  of  using  the  machine,  and 
concludes,  *'He  could  jDlace  and  displace  his  pins 
with  incredible  nimbleness  and  facility,  much  to  the 
pleasure  and  surprise  of  all  the  beholders;  he  could 
even  break  off  in  the  middle  of  a  calculation,  and  re- 
sume it  when  he  pleased,  and  could  presently  know 
the  condition  of  it,  by  only  drawing  his  fingers  gently 
over  the  table." 

Saunderson's  method  of  calculation  deserves  parti- 
cular notice,  not  merely  because  it  is  the  production 
of  a  blind  man,  but  because  it  is  calculated  to  be  use- 
ful to  such  of  the  blind  as  may  make  mathematics 
their  study. 

Many  blind  philosophers  of  great  eminence  have  de- 
rived advantages  from  Saunderson's  invention  ;  it  has 
enabled  them  to  make  out  their  long  and  difficult  cal- 
culations, which  they  perhaps  never  would  have  been 
able  to  accomplish  without  its  assistance.  Among 
those  I  may  mention  the  names  of  Grenville,  Moyes, 
and  Ward.  For  a  more  particular  description  of  this 
curious  contrivance,  the  reader  is  referred  to  the  fol- 
lowing letter  from  M.  Diderot  to  a  lady :— = 

"  This  Saunderson,  madam,  is  an  author  deprived 
of  sight,  with  whom  it  may  not  be  foreign  to  our  pur- 
pose to  amuse  you.  They  relate  prodigies  of  him; 
and  of  these  prodigies  there  is  not  one,  which  his 
progress  in  the  Belles  Lettres  and  his  mathematical 
attainments  do  not  render  credible.  The  same  in- 
strument served  him,  for  algebraical  calculations,  and 
for  the  construction  of  rectilineal  figures.  You  would 
not,  perhaps,  be  sorry  that  I  should  give  you  an  ex- 

or    SAUNDERSON.  59 

plication  of  it,  if  you  thought  your  mind  previously 
qualified  to  understand  it;  and  you  shall  soon  perceive 
that  it  pre- supposes  no  intellectual  preparations,  of 
which  you  are  not  already  mistress ;  and  that  it  would 
be  extremely  useful  to  you,  if  you  should  ever  be 
seized  with  the  inclination  of  making  long  calcula- 
tions by  touch."  (See  Transactions  of  the  French 

Mr.  Saunderson,  in  mathematical  learning,  was 
equal  to  any  of  his  time;  and  in  the  capacity  of  a 
teacher,  perhaps  superior  to  all.  Whatever  pieces, 
therefore,  the  world  might  be  favoured  with  from  so 
excellent  a  master,  could  not  fail  of  meeting  with  a 
kind  reception  ;  and  his  work  on  the  method  of  flux- 
ions, though  far  from  being  a  complete  system  of  the 
fluxionary  calculus,  will  prove  of  the  utmost  advan- 
tage to  students  in  this  branch  of  science.  That 
perspicuity,  that  simple  analysis  and  elegant  con- 
struction, for  which  Dr.  Saunderson  was  so  remark- 
able and  so  justly  celebrated,  appear  throughout  this 
whole  treatise.  The  consummate  master  and  finished 
teacher  are  here  fully  displayed,  in  a  judicious  choice 
of  examples,  and  the  perspicuous  method  of  solving 
and  applying  them. 

"What  the  Doctor  has  given  us,"  (says  a  learned 
writer  very  justly,)  ''upon  Mr.  Cotes's  Logometria  is 
particularly  valuable,  as  by  his  intimate  acquaintance 
with  that  extraordinary  person,  he  may  be  presumed 
to  have  understood  his  writings  better  than  any  one 
at  that  time  living,  Dr.  Smith  only  excepted,  to  whose 
superior  genius  and  faithful  care  the  world  is  so  much 
indebted  for  the  improvement,  as  well  as  the  preser- 

60  THE    LIFE 

vation  of  Mr.  Cotes's  Works.  But  we  are  much  mis- 
taken if  the  latter  part  of  this  treatise,  (we  mean  his 
explanation  of  the  chief  propositions  of  Sir  Isaac 
Newton's  Principia,)  does  not  jDrove  as  valuable  as 
what  he  has  given  us  on  the  writings  of  Mr.  Cotes. 
Every  person  who  has  attempted  the  arduous  study  of 
Sir  Isaac's  Principia,  must  be  sufficiently  acquainted 
with  the  difficulties  of  fully  comprehending  the  de- 
monstrations in  that  illustrious  author.  Dr.  Saunderson 
has  removed  many  of  these  difficulties ;  and  thereby 
rendered  the  study  of  the  Principia  much  pleasauter 
and  easier  than  it  was  before." 

We  have  already  observed,  that  this  treatise  is  not 
a  complete  system  of  the  Fluxionary  Calculus ;  its 
readers  must  therefore,  be  previously  acquainted  with 
the  elementary  parts  of  Fluxions,  or  be  assisted,  viva 
voce,  by  a  master.  With  either  of  these  helps,  he 
will  find  it  one  of  the  most  useful  treatises  that  has 
hitherto  appeared  on  the  subject. 


Hutton's  Mathematical  Dictionary — Nicholson's  Philoso- 
phical Journal— Reid's  Inquiry  into  the  Human  Mind — Lon- 
don Monthly  Critical  Review. 

OF    EULER.  61 



Professor  of  Mathematics  in  the  Royal  Academy  of  Saint 
Petersburgh,  and  Member  of  the  Royal  Societies  of  London, 
Berlin^  Paris,  Vienna,  and  Stockholm. 

"  To  him  the  motion  of  each  orb  was  known, 
That  wheels  around  the  Sun's  refulgent  throne  ; 
He  saw  the  Moon  thro'  Heav'n's  blue  concave  glide, 
And  into  motion  charm  the  expanding  tide ; 
While  earth  impetuous  round  her  axis  rolls, 
Exalts  her  watery  zone  and  sinks  the  poles." 

Among  those  eminent  Philosophers  who,  by  their 
lives  and  writings,  have  rendered  so  much  service  to 
mankind,  is  Leonard  Euler  ;  a  man  whose  cultivated 
mind,  and  high  intellectual  attainments,  and  above 
all,  his  deep  and  unaffected  piety,  have  rendered  him 
the  ornament  of  his  country,  and  will  transmit  his 
name  to  posterity,  not  only  as  one  of  the  gi-eatest 
men  but  also  as  one  of  the  best  the  world  has  ever 
yet  produced. 

Leonard  Euler  was  the  son  of  a  Clergyman  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Basil,  and  was  bom  on  the  15th 


63  THE    LIFE 

of  April,  1707.  His  natural  turn  for  mathematics 
soon  appeared,  from  the  eagerness  and  facility  with 
which  he  became  master  of  the  elements,  under  the 
instruction  of  his  father,  by  whom  he  was  sent  to  the 
University  of  Basil  at  an  early  age.  There,  his 
abilities  and  his  application  were  so  distinguished, 
that  he  attracted  the  particular  notice  of  John  Ber- 
noulli. That  excellent  mathematician  seemed  to  look 
forward  to  the  youth's  future  achievements  in  science, 
while  his  own  kind  care  strengthened  the  powers  by 
which  they  were  to  be  accomplished.  In  order  to 
superintend  his  studies,  which  far  outstripped  the 
usual  routine  of  the  public  lectures,  he  gave  him  a 
private  lesson  regularly  once  a  week  ;  when  they  con- 
versed together  on  the  acquisitions  which  the  pupil 
had  been  making  since  the  last  interview,  considered 
whatever  difficulties  might  have  occurred  in  his  pro- 
gi-ess,  and  arranged  the  reading  and  exercises  for  the 
ensuing  week.  Under  such  eminent  advantages,  the 
capacity  of  Euler  did  not  fail  to  make  rapid  improve- 
ments, and  in  his  seventeenth  year,  the  degree  of 
Master  of  Arts  was  conferred  on  him.  On  this 
occasion,  he  received  high  applause  for  his  proba- 
tionary discourse,  the  subject  of  which  was  a  com- 
parison between  the  Cartesian  and  Newtonian  sys- 

His  father  having  all  along  intended  him  for  his 
successor,  enjoined  him  now  to  relinquish  his  mathe- 
matical studies,  and  to  prepare  himself,  by  those  of 
theology  and  general  erudition,  for  the  ministerial 
lunctions.  After  some  time,  however,  had  been  con- 
sumed, this  plan  was  given  up.    His  father,  a  man  of 

OF    EULER.  63 

learning  and  liberality,  abandoned  his  own  views  for 
those  to  which  the  inclination  and  talents  of  his  son 
were  so  powerfully  directed;  persuaded  that  in  thwart- 
ing the  propensities  of  genius,  there  is  a  sort  of  im- 
piety against  nature,  and  that  there  would  be  real 
injustice  to  mankind,  in  smotbering  those  abilities 
which  were  evidently  destined  to  extend  the  bomi- 
daries  of  science.  Leonard  was  permitted,  therefore, 
to  resume  his  favourite  pursuits;  and  at  the  age  of 
nineteen,  having  transmitted  two  Dissertations  to  the 
Academy  of  Sciences  at  Paris,  one  on  the  masting  of 
ships,  and  the  other  on  the  velocity  of  sound,  he  com- 
menced that  splendid  career,  which  continued  for  so 
long  a  period  the  admiration  and  glory  of  Europe. 

About  the  same  time  he  stood  candidate  for  a  vacant 
professorship  in  the  University  of  Basil,  but  having 
lost  the  election,  he  resolved,  in  consequence  of  this 
disappointment,  to  leave  his  native  countiy.  In  1727, 
he  set  out  for  Petersburgh,  where  his  friends  the  young 
BernouUis  had  settled  about  two  years  before,  and  he 
flattered  himself  with  prospects  of  literary  preferment, 
under  the  patronage  of  Catharine  the  First.  Those 
prospects,  however,  were  not  immediately  realized; 
nor  was  it  till  after  he  had  been  frequently  and  long 
disappointed,  that  he  obtained  any  settlement.  His 
first  appointment  appears  to  have  been  the  chair  of 
natural  philosophy ;  and  when  Daniel  Bernoulli  re- 
moved from  Petersburgh,  Euler  succeeded  him  as 
professor  of  mathematics.  In  this  situation  he  re- 
mained many  years,  engaged  in  the  most  laborious 
researches,  enriching  the  academical  collections  of 
the  Continent  with  papers  of  the  highest  value,  and 

64  THE    LIFE 

producing  almost  daily  improvements  in  the  various 
branches  of  physical,  and  more  particularly  analytical, 
science.  In  1741,  he  complied  with  a  pressing  in- 
vitation from  Frederic  the  Great,  and  resided  at  Berlin 
till  1766.  Throughout  this  period  he  continued  the 
same  literary  labours,  directed  by  the  same  wonderful 
sagacity  and  comprehension  of  intellect.  As  he  ad- 
vanced with  his  own  discoveries  and  inventions,  the 
field  of  knowledge  seemed  to  widen  before  his  view, 
and  new  subjects  still  multiplied  on  him  for  further 
speculation.  The  toils  of  intense  study  only  seemed 
to  invigorate  his  future  exertions,  nor  did  the  energy 
of  Euler's  mind  give  way,  even  when  his  bodily 
strength  was  overpowered ;  for  in  the  year  1765, 
having  completed  in  three  days  certain  astronomical 
calculations  which  the  academy  called  for  in  haste, 
but  which  several  mathematicians  of  eminence  had 
declared  could  not  be  performed  within  a  shorter 
period  than  some  months,  the  intense  application 
threw  him  into  a  fever,  by  which  he  lost  the  sight  of 
one  eye.  Shortly  after  his  return  to  Petersburgh,  he 
became  totally  blind.  It  was  in  this  situation  that 
he  dictated  to  his  servant,  a  tailor's  apprentice,  (who 
was  absolutely  devoid  of  mathematical  knowledge,) 
his  Elements  of  Algebra ;  which  by  their  intrinsic 
merit  in  point  of  perspicuity  and  method,  and  the 
unhappy  circumstances  under  which  they  were  com- 
posed, have  equally  excited  applause  and  astonishment. 
This  work,  though  purely  elementary,  discovers  the 
palpable  characteristics  of  an  inventive  genius,  and  it 
is  here  alone  we  meet  with  a  complete  tlieory  of  the 
Analysis  of  Diophantes.     About  this  time  Euler  was 


OF    EULER.  65 

elected  by  the  Academy  of  Sciences  at  Paris  one  of 
the  foreign  members  of  that  learned  body  ;  and  after 
this,  the  academical  pnze  was  adjudged  to  three  of 
his  memoirs,  concerning  the  inequalities  in  the  mo- 
tions of  the  planets.  The  two  prize  questions  pro- 
posed by  the  same  Academy  for  1770  and  1772,  were 
designed  to  obtain  from  the  labours  of  astronomers  a 
more  perfect  theory  of  the  moon.  Euler,  assisted  by 
his  eldest  son,  was  a  competitor  for  these  prizes,  and 
obtained  them  both.  In  this  last  memoir  he  reserved 
for  farther  consideration,  several  inequalities  of  the 
moon's  motion,  which  he  could  not  determine  in 
his  first  theory,  on  account  of  the  complicated  cal- 
culations in  which  the  method  he  then  employed 
had  engaged  him.  He  had  the  courage  afterwards  to 
review  his  whole  theory,  with  the  assistance  of  his 
son,  and  Messrs.  Krafftand  Lexell;  and  to  pursue  his 
researches  until  he  had  constituted  the  new  tables, 
which  appeared  together  with  the  great  work,  in  1772. 
Instead  of  confining  himself  as  before,  to  the  fruitless 
integration  of  three  dififerential  equations  of  the 
second  degree,  which  are  furnished  by  mathematical 
principles,  he  reduced  them  to  the  three  ordinates, 
which  determine  the  place  of  the  moon ;  he  divided 
into  classes  all  the  inequalities  of  that  planet  as  far  as 
they  depend  either  on  the  elongation  of  the  sun  and 
moon,  or  upon  the  eccentricity,  parallax,  or  inclination 
of  the  lunar  orbit.  All  these  means  of  investigation, 
employed  with  such  art  and  dexterity  as  could  only  be 
expected  from  an  analytical  genius  of  the  first  or- 
der, were  attended  with  the  greatest  success ;  and  it 
is  impossible  to  observe  without  admiration,  such 
G  3 

66  THE    LIFE 

immense  calculations  on  the  one  hand,  and  on 
the  other  the  ingenious  methods  employed  by  this 
great  man  to  abridge  them,  and  to  facilitate  their 
application  to  the  real  motion  of  the  moon.  But 
this  admiration  will  be  raised  to  astonishment,  when 
we  consider  at  what  period,  and  under  what  circum- 
stances, all  this  was  effected  by  Euler.  It  was  when 
he  was  totally  blind,  and  consequently  obliged  to  ar- 
range all  his  computations  by  the  sole  powers  of  his 
memory  and  genius.  It  was  when  he  was  embarrassed 
in  his  domestic  circumstances  by  a  dreadful  fire,  that 
had  consumed  a  gi*eatpart  of  his  substance,  and  forced 
him  to  quit  a  ruined  house  of  which  every  corner  was 
so  well  known  to  him  by  habit,  as  in  some  measure 
to  supply  the  place  of  sight.  It  was  in  these  circum- 
stances that  Euler  composed  a  work  which,  alone,  was 
sufficient  to  render  his  name  immortal.  The  heroic 
patience  and  tranquillity  of  mind  which  he  displayed 
need  no  description ;  and  he  derived  them,  not  only 
from  the  love  of  science,  but  from  the  power  of  religion. 
His  philosophy  was  too  genuine  and  sublime  to  end 
its  analysis  in  mechanical  causes;  it  led  him  to  that 
divine  philosophy  of  religion  which  ennobles  human 
nature,  and  can  alone  form  a  habit  of  true  magnan- 
imity, and  patience  in  suffering. 

Some  time  after  this,  the  famous  Wentzell,  by 
couching  the  cataract,  restored  Euler 's  sight;  but 
the  satisfaction  and  joy  that  this  successful  operation 
produced,  were  of  short  duration.  Some  instances 
of  negligence  on  the  part  of  his  surgeons,  and  his  own 
impatience  to  use  an  organ  whose  cure  was  not  com- 
pletely finished,  deprived  him  of  his  sight  a  second 


OF    EULER.  6T 

time ;  and  this  relapse  was  accompanied  with  torment- 
ing pain.  He,  however,  with  the  assistance  of  his 
sons,  and  Messrs.  Krafft  and  Lexell,  continued  his 
labours  ;  neither  the  loss  of  his  sight  nor  the  infir- 
mities of  an  advanced  age,  could  damp  the  ardour  of 
his  genius.  He  had  engaged  to  furnish  the  academy 
of  Petersburgh  with  as  many  memoirs,  as  would  be 
sufficient  to  complete  its  acts  for  twenty  years  after  his 
death.  For  the  space  of  seven  years  he  transmitted 
to  the  academy,  by  IMr.  Golswin,  above  two  hundred 
and  seventy  memoirs,  which  were  revised  and  com- 
pleted by  his  son.  Such  of  these  memoirs  as  were 
of  early  date  were  separated  from  the  rest,  and  form 
a  collection  that  was  published  in  the  year  1783, 
under  the  title  of  Analj'tical  Works.  Euler's  know- 
ledge was  more  universal  than  could  be  well  expected, 
in  one  who  had  pursued,  with  such  unremitting  ar- 
dour, mathematics  and  astronomy  as  his  favourite 
studies.  He  had  made  a  very  considerable  progress 
in  medical,  botanical,  and  chemical  science.  What 
was  still  more  extraordinary,  he  was  an  excellent 
scholar,  and  possessed  what  is  generally  called  erudi- 
tion in  a  very  high  degree.  He  had  read  with  atten- 
tion and  taste,  the  most  eminent  writers  of  ancient 
Rom.e  ;  the  civil  and  literary  history  of  all  ages  and 
all  nations  was  familiar  to  him  ;  and  foreigners,  who 
had  been  only  acquainted  with  his  works,  were  as- 
tonished to  find,  in  the  conversation  of  a  man  whose 
long  life  seemed  solely  occupied  in  mathematical  and 
physical  discoveries,  such  an  extensive  acquaintance 
vvith  the  most  interesting  branches  of  literature.  In 
this  respect,  no  doubt,  he  was  much  indebted  to  a  very 

68  THE    LIFE 

uncommon  memory,  which  seemed  to  retain  every 
idea  that  was  conveyed  to  it,  either  from  reading  or 
from  meditation.  He  could  repeat  the  iEneid  of 
Virgil  from  the  beginning  to  the  end,  without  hesi- 
tation, and  indicate  the  first  and  last  line  of  every  page 
of  the  edition  he  used.  Several  attacks  of  a  vertigo, 
in  the  beginning  of  September,  1783,  which  did  not 
prevent  his  calculating  the  motions  of  the  aerostatical 
globes,  were,  nevertheless,  the  forerunners  of  his  mild 
and  happy  passage  from  this  scene  to  a  better.  While 
he  was  amusing  himself  at  tea  with  one  of  his  grand- 
children, he  was  stmck  with  an  apoplexy  ;  which 
tenninated  his  illustrious  career,  at  the  age  of  76. 
His  constitution  was  uncommonly  strong  and  vigorous, 
his  health  was  good,  and  the  evening  of  his  long  life 
was  calm  and  serene ;  sweetened  by  the  fame  that 
follows  genius,  the  public  esteem  and  respect  that  are 
never  witheld  from  exemplary  virtue,  and  domestic 
comforts  which  he  was  capable  of  feeling,  and  there- 
fore deserved  to  enjoy. 

In  men  devoted  to  study,  we  are  not  to  look  for 
those  strong  complicated  passions,  which  are  called 
forth  amidst  the  vicissitudes  and  tumult  of  public  life. 
To  delineate  the  character  of  Euler  requires  no  con- 
trasts of  colouring ;  sweetness  of  disposition,  modera- 
tion in  the  passions,  simplicity  of  manners,  were  its 
.eading  features.  Susceptible  of  domestic  affections, 
he  was  open  to  all  their  amiable  impressions,  and  was 
remarkably  fond  of  children.  His  manners  were 
simple,  without  being  singular ;  and  seemed  to  flow 
naturally  from  a  heart,  that  could  dispense  with  those 
habits  by  which  many  must  be  trained  to  artificial 

OF    EULER.  69 

mildness,  and  with  the  forms  that  are  often  necessary 
for  concealment.  Nor  did  the  equability  and  calm- 
ness of  his  temper  indicate  a  defect  of  energy,  but 
the  serenity  of  a  soul  that  overlooked  the  frivolous 
provocations,  the  petulant  caprices,  and  jarring  hu- 
mours of  ordinary  mortals. 

Possessing  a  mind  of  such  wonderful  comprehen- 
sion, and  dispositions  so  admirably  formed  to  virtue 
and  to  happiness,  Euler  found  no  difficulty  in  being 
a  Christian  ;  accordingly,  "  his  faith  was  unfeigned,' 
and  his  love  was  "that  of  a  pure  and  undefiled  heart." 
The  advocates  for  the  truth  of  revealed  religion,  there- 
fore, may  rejoice  to  add  to  the  bright  catalogue  which 
already  claims  a  Bacon,  a  Newton,  a  Locke,  a  Boyle, 
and  a  Hale,  the  illustrious  name  of  Euler.  Those 
early  lessons  of  religion  and  virtue,  which  had  been 
instilled  into  his  infant  mind  by  his  pious  father,  were 
never  departed  from.  Amidst  his  academic  studies, 
he  embraced  every  opportunity  of  improving  them, 
both  by  reading  and  meditation.  It  was  gratifying 
indeed,  says  one  of  his  biographers,  to  see  the  good 
man  surrounded  by  his  amiable  family  in  their  de- 
votional exercises ;  there,  the  Philosopher  gave  way 
to  the  Christian,  and  prayer  and  praise  generally  con- 
cluded the  day.  When  no  longer  able  to  peruse  the 
sacred  volume  on  account  of  the  loss  of  sight,  one  of 
his  children  read  the  chapter,  and  he  explained  it  to 
them,  and  made  such  remarks  as  the  nature  of  the 
subject  required.  On  these  occasions  he  would,  by 
the  most  persuasive  eloquence,  impress  on  their  minds 
the  divine  precepts  which  are  contained  in  the  in- 
spired writings.      Such  was  the  life  of  Euler ;  but 

70  THE    LIFE 

on  this  subject  we  must  permit  one  of  bis  learned 
and  grateful  pupils,  (M.  Fuss,)  in  bis  eulogy  of  his 
preceptor,  to  sum  up  the  character  of  his  venerable 
master.  ''  His  piety  was  rational  and  sincere,  and 
his  devotion  was  fervent ;  he  was  fully  persuaded  of 
the  truths  of  Christianity,  felt  its  importance  to  the 
dignity  and  happiness  of  human  nature,  and  looked 
upon  its  detractors  and  opposers  as  the  most  pernicious 
enemies  of  man." 

Euler  was  beloved  and  admired  by  every  person  of 
ranker  talents,  in  the  different  countries  in  which  he 
resided.  Prince  William  of  Prussia,  while  on  a  visit 
at  St.  Petersburgh,  usually  spent  two  or  three  hours 
every  day  in  conversation  with  him.  Catharine  the 
First,  with  that  munificence  for  which  she  was  so 
justly  distinguished,  settled  a  pension  on  Euler,  as  a 
reward  for  the  services  he  had  rendered  to  the  Russian 
Academy  ;  and,  be  it  told  to  her  honour,  when  Euler 
resigned  the  situation  in  the  St.  Petersburgh  Academy, 
and  left  Russia  in  order  to  settle  at  Berlin,  it  was 
regularly  paid,  although  the  two  countries  were  then 
in  open  hostilities.  Frederic  the  Great  was  no  less 
generous  in  rewarding  his  merit;  for,  on  this  occasion, 
besides  a  genteel  salary,  which  he  allowed  this  Philo- 
sopher, he  made  a  present  to  him  of  a  rich  farm  in 

The  following  circumstance,  (taken  from  M.  Fuss's 
Life  of  Euler,)  which  occun-ed  about  this  period,  it  is 
presumed  will  not  be  deemed  out  of  place  here ;  it 
shows  the  high  respect  entertained  for  the  virtues  and 
talents  of  this  great  man,  not  only  by  the  first  Princess 
in  Europe,  but  by  the  soldier  also,  amidst  the  havoc 

OF   EULER.  71 

of  war;  who,  when  he  found  he  had  set  his  unhallowed 
foot  on  the  lands  of  Euler,  which  he  deemed  sacred, 
restrained  his  war-dogs;  like  Alexander,  who,  when 
he  entered  Thebes,  amidst  the  general  conflagration 
of  the  city,  called  to  his  soldiers  to  spare  the  house  of 
Pindar.  ''The  Russian  forces  having,  in  1760,  pene- 
trated into  the  marshes  of  Brandenburg,  plundered 
a  farm  of  Euler's,  near  Charlottenburg ;  but  General 
Tottleben  had  not  come  to  make  war  on  the  sciences. 
Being  informed  of  the  loss  which  Euler  had  sustained, 
he  hastened  to  repair  it,  by  ordering  payment  beyond 
the  real  value  of  the  property;  and  having  commu- 
nicated to  the  Empress  Elizabeth  an  account  of  this 
involuntary  disrespect,  she  was  pleased  to  add  a  gra- 
tuity of  four  thousand  florins  to  an  indemnification 
already  more  than  sufficient," 

His  death  was  considered  as  a  public  loss  in 
the  country  which  he  inhabited.  The  Academy  of 
Petersburgh  went  into  deep  mourning,  and  voted  a 
marble  bust  of  him,  at  their  own  expence,  to  be  placed 
in  their  Assembly  Hall.  An  honour  still  more  distin- 
guished had  already  been  conferred  on  him,  by  that 
learned  body,  in  his  life-time.  In  an  allegorical 
painting,  a  figure  of  Geometry  is  represented  leaning 
on  a  table,  exhibiting  mathematical  calculations,  and 
the  characters  inscribed  by  order  of  the  Academy  are 
the  formulas  of  his  new  theory  of  the  moon.  Thus, 
a  country  which  at  the  beginning  of  the  17th  century 
was  considered  as  scarcely  emerged  from  barbarism, 
is  become  the  instructor  of  the  most  enlightened 
nations  of  Europe;  doing  honour  to  the  lives  of  great 
men,  embalming  their  memories,  and  setting  those 

72  THE    LIFE 

nations  an  example  which  some  of  them  may  blush  to 
reflect,  that  they  have  had  neither  the  virtue  to  pro- 
pose, nor  to  imitate. 


ErLER's  Life,  prefixed  to  the  first  Volume  of  his  Algebra, 
London,  1810 — Ecler's  Letters  to  a  German  Princess,  2  vols. 
— Philosophical  Magazine —  Aikin's  General  Biography. 

OF   GOUGH.  73 



"  On  him  fair  science  dawn'd  in  happier  hours, 
And  waken'd  into  bloom  young  fancy's  flowers." 

Of  all  the  surprising  phenomena  that  have,  in 
different  ages,  appeared  among  the  human  species, 
there  is  not  one  more  difficult  to  he  accounted  for, 
than  that  of  a  hlind  man's  excelling  in  the  most  diffi- 
cult and  sublime  parts  of  the  mathematics ;  it  seems, 
indeed,  almost  impossible,  had  we  not  the  illustrious 
example  before  us  of  Professor  Saunderson.  We 
might,  perhaps,  have  looked  upon  the  instances  of 
this  kind  related  by  authors,  as  fiction,  or,  at  least, 
as  exaggerated  representations  of  the  truth.  The  most 
remarkable  of  these  instances,  mentioned  by  his- 
torians, is  that  of  Didymus,  of  Alexandria.  The 
case  of  this  extraordinary  person  was  similar  to  that 
of  our  author,  who,  when  twelve  months  old,  was  de- 
prived of  his  sight  by  the  small  pox,  and  retained  no 
more  idea  of  light  and  colours,  than  if  he  had  been 
bom  blind. 

John  Gough  was  bom  on  the  17th  of  January, 
in  the  year  1757,  and  was  the  oldest  child  of  Nathan 

74  THE    LIFE 

Gough,   shearman-dyer,   of  Kendal,   and   Susannah 
his  wife.     His  father  was  the  only  child,  by  a  first 
man-iage,  of  Thomas  Gough,*  skinner  and  glover,  of 
Wyersdale,  in  Lancashire ;  his  mother  was  the  oldest 
daughter  of  Mr.  John  Wilson,  a  respectable  yeoman, 
who  had  a  good  estate  on  the  west  bank  of  Winder- 
mere lake.     Of  the  subject  of  this  biographical  sketch, 
much  might  be  said,  even  respecting  the  actions  and 
pastimes  of  infancy  ;  but  this  would  be  stepping  be- 
yond the  necessary  limits  of  these   annals,    and   an 
improper  interference  with  a  work  which,  it  is  hoped, 
will  not  long  be  withheld  from  the  public. f     To  all 
enquirers  into  the  culture  of  enlargement  of  the  human 
mind,  such  a  work  would  be  peculiarly  acceptable,  as 
unfolding  the  means  by  which  he  obtained  a  rich 
store  of  scientific  knowledge,  under  difiiculties  and 
privations,    apparently   rendering   such   acquisitions 
nearly  unattainable,  if  not  impossible.     At  a  very 
early  age  a  misfortune  befel  him  which,  in  his  opinion, 
gave  birth  to  the  peculiarities  of  his  character  through 
life.     Before  the  completion  of  his  third  year,  he  was 

*  Thomas  Gough  was  the  son  of  James  Gough,  who  was 
not  a  native  of  Wyersdale,  but  the  son  of  "William  Gough,  a 
general  in  the  Parliamentary  army,  and  one  of  King  Charles's 
judges.  At  the  time  of  the  Restoration  he  escaped  the  halter 
and  axe  of  the  executioner,  by  an  early  flight;  after  which  he 
remained  concealed  many  years  in  New  England,  with  his 
friends  and  his  father-in-law,  Colonel  Whaley,  who  not  only 
faithfully  secreted,  but  kindly  supported  him  in  his  turn  of 

+  The  Prospectus  of  the  Posthumous  Works  of  John  Gough 
was  printed  in  1826. 

OF    COUGH.  75 

attacked  with  the  small  pox;  this  happened  in 
December,  17^19,  and  the  virulence  of  the  malady, 
joined  to  the  injiulicious  treatment  then  in  fashion, 
deprived  him  of  his  sight  before  the  commencement 
of  the  next  year.  The  loss  indeed  was  not  so  total 
as  to  render  him  incapable  of  distinguishing  day  from 
night;  but  the  slender  ray  of  light  which  fell  on  the 
verge  of  the  retina,  was  insufficient  to  afford  him  the 
least  idea  of  colours,  or  the  visible  images  of  external 
objects  which  properly  speaking  constitute  vision. 
Thus  was  "wisdom  at  one  entrance  quite  shut  out ;" 
this  proved  the  cause  of  opening  others  which,  under 
different  circumstances,  might  never  have  been  ex- 
plored. Into  a  detail  of  the  exertions  and  contriv- 
ances by  which  he  surmounted  this  great  obstacle  to 
mental  improvement,  we  are  precluded  from  entering, 
for  the  reason  stated  above  ;  it  must  suffice,  therefore, 
to  notice  briefly  the  progress  of  his  early  education, 
and  the  evidences  of  that  distinction,  which  he  attained 
in  maturer  life,  as  a  man  of  science. ■*«• 

At  the  age  of  six  years  he  was  placed  under  the 
care  of  Mr.  Rebanks,  at  that  time  master  of  the 
school  belonging  to  the  society  of  Friends  in  Kendal. 
With  this  gentleman  he  began  to  study  the  princi- 

*  Gough  is  the  friend  alluded  to  in  the  following  extract 
from  Thomas  Wilkinson's  "Tours  to  the  British  Mountains." 

"  Ardent  energies  are  not  always  crowned  with  wise  achieve- 
ments. I  was  once  spending  a  few  days  at  the  foot  of  Blen- 
cathra.  A  party  of  six  of  us,  on  a  midsummer  morning,  set 
off  at  four  o'clock;  to  two  of  these  individuals  the  ascent 
of  such  a  high  and  rugged  mountain  might  have  seemed 
impracticable.     The  lame  and  the  blind,  without  extraordi- 


76  THE   LIFE 

pies  of  the  English  language,  prior  to  engaging  with 
the  Latin ;  but,  as  ought  to  have  been  expected  at 
that  early  age,  much  time  was  consumed  to  little  or 
no  advantage.  His  subsequent  attempts,  however, 
to  conquer  the  difficulties  of  the  Latin  grammar,  were 
more  successful;  and  under  the  tuition  of  Mr.  George 
Bewly,  who  was  appointed  master  of  the  school  when 
Mr.  Gough  was  about  twelve  years  old,  he  made  a 
rapid  progress  in  the  acquisition  of  that  language. 
Mr.  Bewly  it  appears  was  well  prepared  for  his  oc- 
cupation, not  only  by  his  classical  knowledge,  but  also 
by  his  attainments  in  the  different  branches  of  natural 
philosophy ;  and  gi'eat  were  the  advantages  which 
Mr.  Gough  derived  from  the  latter  qualifications. 
From  a  very  early  period  of  infancy  he  had  shewed  a 
taste  for  zoology,  and  he  now  began  to  enlarge  his 
knowledge  of  organic  bodies,  by  extending  his  re- 
nary  minds,  would  not  have  hazarded  the  attempt  amid  the 
rocky  steeps  of  this  mountain ;  but  the  company  of  genius 
and  science  was  courted,  and  not  withheld  on  the  occasion, 
and  the  first  that  was  seen  standing  on  the  summit  of  the 
mountain,  was  the  lame  leaning  on  his  crutch  and  staff.  To 
the  blind  I  attempted  a  description  of  the  fearful  precipices 
beneath  us:  but  it  was  the  first  thing  I  repented  of  that  day, 
— when  I  saw  him  fall  on  the  ground  with  dizziness,  and 
cling  to  the  earth,  and  scream  out,  with  the  apprehension  of 
tumbling  down  the  rocks  into  the  abyss  below.  Till  then  I 
thought  that  the  idea  of  giddiness  must  be  received  at  the  eye; 
certainly  it  was  as  vivid  in  the  mind  of  our  learned  and  ac- 
complished companion,  from  what  he  heard,  as  if  he  had 
seen  the  terrors  around  him.  But  we  now  moderated  our  de- 
scriptions, aud  only  talked  of  extent,  and  the  appearance  of 
distant  objects." 

OF    GOUGH.  7*7 

searches  from  the  animal  to  the  vegetable  kingdom. 
To  botanical  pursuits,  all  his  spare  time  from  the  ne- 
cessary studies  of  the  school  was  assiduously  devoted; 
and  as  his  ardour  in  cultivating  this  science  never  re- 
laxed, he  soon  conquered  the  difficulties  opposed  to 
the  gratification  of  his  taste  by  the  want  of  sight,  and 
became  enabled  to  discriminate  and  arrange,  with 
great  accuracy,  the  plants  which  came  under  his 
notice.  Mr.  Gough,  indeed,  possessed  a  power  of 
discrimination  and  a  retentiveness  of  memory,  really 
astonishing*  His  usual  method  of  examining  a  plant, 
when  particular  accuracy  was  required,  was  by  ap- 
plying to  its  several  parts  the  tip  of  his  tongue ;  ordi- 
nary plants  he  could  easily  and  readily  recognise  with 
the  touch  of  his  fingers.  These  pursuits,  however, 
were  not  permitted  to  interfere  with  his  classical  stu- 
dies ;  for  it  appears  that,  under  the  able  instructions 
of  Mr.  Bewly,  he  not  only  gained  a  competent  know- 
ledge of  the  languages,  but  also  a  taste  for  the  compo- 
sitions of  the  ancients. 

In  the  year  1772,  Mr.  Gough's  attention  was  first 
turned  to  experimental  philosophy ;  and  perusing, 
with  characteristic  assiduity,  the  works  of  Mr.  Boyle, 
he  soon  learned  the  nature  of  the  phenomena  arising 
from  the  difference  in  the  specific  gi-avity  of  fluids, 
and  acquired  correct  notions  respecting  the  doctrine 
of  hydrostatics,  and  also  pneumatics.    He  soon  after- 

*A  circumstance  occurred  about  four  or  five  years  before  his 
death,  which  serves  to  illustrate  this  remark.  A  rare  plant 
was  at  that  time  put  into  his  hands,  which  he  very  soon  called 
by  its  name  ;  observing  also,  that  he  had  never  met  with  more 
than  one  specimen  of  it,  and  that  was  fifty  years  ago. 
H    3 

•78  THE    LIFE 

wards,  but  at  what  precise  period  is  not  clearly  ascer- 
tained, entered  upon  the  study  of  mathematics,  under 
the  tuition  of  Mr.  John  Slee,  at  that  time  residing  at 
Mungrisdale,  a  sequestered  part  of  Cumberland.  As 
a  teacher  of  mathematics,  this  gentleman's  reputation 
stood  deservedly  high,  and  perhaps  a  more  judicious 
choice  of  a  tutor  for  such  a  pupil  could  not  have  been 
made.  Whatever  were  the  previous  acquirements  of 
the  latter,  still  his  deficiencies  and  disadvantages 
must  have  been  many  ;  much  therefore  was  to  be  done, 
and  by  the  united  skill  and  industry  of  both,  much 
was  accomplished.  Of  the  particular  mode  of  instruc- 
tion adopted,  a  very  particular  and  interesting  account 
has  been  given  by  Mr.  Slee  himself;  which,  being 
intended  for  the  work  before  referred  to,  cannot  be 
here  inserted.  All  that  it  is  necessary  in  this  brief 
memoir  to  state  is,  that  the  mode  was  so  successful, 
as  not  only  to  give  Mr.  Gough  a  taste  for  mathematical 
knowledge,  but  to  lay  a  foundation  for  those  high 
attainments,  which  subsequently  entitled  him  to  rank 
among  the  most  distinguished  mathematicians  of  the 
age.  In  after  life  he  was  eminent  as  a  teacher  in 
that  science,  and  out  of  the  limited  number  of  his 
pupils,  some  became  senior  wranglers  at  Cambridge, 
one  of  the  highest  honours  to  which  the  students  in 
that   University  are    encouraged    to   aspire.*      But 

*Mr.  Whewell,  now  tutor  of  Trinity  College,  Cambridge, 
was  second  wrangler  in  his  year.  Mr.  Dawes,  tutor  of  Down- 
ing  College,  Cambridge,  was  fourth  wrangler.  Mr.  King, 
now  tutor  of  Queen's  College,  Cambridge,  (esteemed  one  of 
the  first  mathematicians  of  the  age,)  was  senior  wrangler  in 
his  year.     Mr.   Gaskiu,  tutor  of  Jesus'  College,  Cambridge, 

OF    GOUGH.  79 

to  trace  the  subject  of  this  brief  memoir  minutely, 
through  the  early  exercise  and  gradual  expansion  of 
his  mental  powers,  would  lead  us  beyond  our  pre- 
scribed limits.  To  ascertain  the  extent  of  his  acquire- 
ments, our  readers  must  be  refen'ed  to  the  essays, 
published  in  the  "Memoirs  of  the  Literary  and  Phi- 
losophical Society  of  Manchester,"  and  in  "Nichol- 
son's Journal,"  of  which  a  catalogue  is  subjoined. 
They  have  been  highly  valued  by  the  most  competent 
judges,  and  they  certainly  contain  decisive  evidence 
of  the  acuteness  of  his  mind,  and  of  the  accuracy  of 
his  knowledge  in  various  departments  of  science. 

We  have  now  only  to  add,  that  Mr.  Gough  was 
fully  occupied  in  the  duties  of  his  employment  as  an 
instructor  of  youth,  and  in  his  usual  philosophical  in- 
vestigations, to  the  close  of  the  year  1823,  when  in- 
dications of  declining  powers  began  to  be  visible  to 
his  friends.  Repeated  attacks  of  epilepsy  after  in- 
considerable intervals,  though  not  materially  injuring 
his  mental  faculties,  gradually  undermined  his  bodily 
health,  and  clearly  pointed  out  the  approaching  ter- 
mination of  his  earthly  course.  He  died  July  27th, 
1825,  in  the  sixty-eighth  year  of  his  age  ;  and  his 
remains  were  interred  in  the  church  yard  of  Kendal, 
on  the  Sunday  morning  after  his  decease,  attended  by 
his  familv,  and  a  few  select  friends. 

was  second  wrangler  in  his  year.  These  gentlemen  were  all 
pupils  of  Mr.  Gough.  Mr.  John  Dalton,  the  eminent  philoso- 
pher, and  president  of  the  Manchester  Philosophical  Society, 
was  four  or  five  years  under  Mr.  Cough's  instructions  in  ma- 
thematics and  natural  philosophy. 

80  THE    LIFE 

List  of  Essays,  from  the  pen  of  Mr.  Gough,  com- 
municated to  the  Manchester  Philosophical  Society. 

1.  (1790.)  Reasons  for  supposing  that  Lakes  have  been 
more  numerous  than  they  are  at  present,  with  an  attempt  to 
assign  the  causes  whereby  they  have  been  eflfaced. 

2.  The  Laws  of  Motion  of  a  Cylinder  compelled  by  the 
repeated  Strokes  of  a  falling  Block  to  penetrate  an  Obstacle, 
the  Resistance  of  which  is  an  invariable  Force. 

3.  4.  Experiments  and  Observations  on  the  Vegetation  of 

5.  (1796.)     On  the  Variety  of  Voices. 

6.  (1801.^  An  Investigation  of  the  Method  whereby  Men 
judge  by  the  Ear,  of  the  Position  of  sonorous  Bodies,  relative 
to  their  own  Persons. 

7.  The  Theory  of  Compound  Sounds. 

8.  (1803.)  A  Description  of  a  Property  of  Caoutchouc, 
or  India  Rubber,  with  some  Reflections  on  the  Cause  of  the 
Elasticity  of  this  Substance. 

9.  An  Essay  on  the  Theory  of  Mixed  Gases,  and  the  State 
of  Water  in  the  Atmosphere. 

10.  (1804.)  A  Reply  to  Mr.  Dal  ton's  Objections  to  a  late 
Theory  of  Mixed  Gases. 

11.  Theorems  and  Problems  intended  to  elucidate  the  Me- 
chanical Principle  called  Vis  Viva. 

12.  (1811.)  Observations  on  the  Ebbing  and  Flowing 
Well  at  Giggleswick,  in  the  West  Riding  of  Yorkshire,  with 
a  Theory  of  Reciprocating  Fountains. 

13.  (1812.)  Remarks  on  the  Summer  Birds  of  Passage? 
and  on  Migration  in  general. 

14.  The  Laws  of  Statical  Equilibrium  analytically  inves- 

List  of  Mr.  Gough's  communications,  published  in 
Nicholson's  Joaraal. 

1.  On  the  supposed  Revival  of  Insects  after  long  immer- 
sion in  Wine,  or  other  intoxicating  Liquor.     Vol.  iii. 

OF    GOUGH.  81 

2.  A  Statical  Enquiry  into  the  Source  of  Nutrition  in  suc- 
culent Vegetables.     Ibid. 

3.  Instances  of  Suspended  Animation  in  Vegetables.  Ibid. 

4.  On  the  Exhibition  of  a  Series  of  Primes,  and  the  Reso- 
lution of  a  compound  Number  into  all  its  Factors.     Ibid. 

5.  Facts  and  Observations  to  explain  the  curious  Pheno- 
menon of  Ventriloquism.     Ibid. 

6.  Reply  to  Dr.  Young's  Letter  on  the  Theory  of  Com- 
pound Sounds.     Vol.  iv. 

7.  On  the  Nature  of  Grave  Harmonics.     Ibid. 

8.  On  the  Nature  of  Musical  Sounds,  in  Reply  to  Dr. 
Young.     Ibid. 

9.  The  Theory  of  Compound  Sounds.     Vol.  v. 

10.  Experiments  and  Observations  in  Support  of  that 
Theory  of  Ventriloquism  which  is  founded  on  the  Reflection 
of  Sound.     Vol.  vii. 

11.  Scoteography,  or  the  Art  of  Writing  in  the  Dark. 
Vol.  viii. 

12.  On  the  Solution  of  Water  in  the  Atmosphere;  and 
on  the  Nature  of  Atmospherical  Air.     Vol.  ix. 

13.  Narrative  of  some  less  common  Effects  of  Lightning, 
by  the  Rev.  Jonathan  Wilson ;  with  Remarks  by  Mr.  Gough. 

14.  Strictures  on  Mr.  Dalton's  Doctrine  of  Mixed  Gases 
and  an  Auswer  to  Mr.  Henry's  Defence  of  the  same.     Ibid. 

15.  Atmospherical  Air  not  a  mechanical  Mixture  of  the 
Oxygen  and  Azotic  Gases,  demonstrated  from  the  specific 
Gravities  of  these  Fluids.     Ibid. 

16.  Experiments  proving  the  Necessity  of  Atmospherical 
Oxygen  in  the  process  of  Vegetation.     Vol.  x. 

17.  Farther  Observations  on  the  Constitution  of  Mixed 
Gases.     Ibid. 

18.  Experiments  and  Remarks  on  the  Augmentation  of 
Sounds.     Ibid. 

19.  A  Mathematical  Theory  of  the  Speaking  Trumpet. 

82  THE    LIFE 

20.  Theorems  respecting  the  Properties  of  the  Sides  of 
Triangles,  intersected  by  right  Lines  drawn  from  the  three  An- 
gles, so  as  to  meet  in  one  Point.     Vol.  xi. 

2L  Investigation  of  the  Properties  of  the  Lines  drawn  in 
a  Circle,  by  Mr.  Boswell.     Vol.  xii. 

22.  On  the  division  of  an  Arch  of  a  Circle  into  two  such 
Parts  that  their  Sines,  or  Co-sines,  or  Versed-sines  shall  have 
a  given  Relation.     Vol.  xiii. 

23.  On  the  Cause  of  Fairy  Rings.     Ibid. 

24.  Experiments  on  the  Magnetism  of  Slender  Iron  Wire. 

25.  Experiments  ou  the  Temperature  of  Water  surrounded 
by  Freezing  Mixtures.     Ibid. 

26.  Observations  and  experiments  to  shew  that  the  Effects 
ascribed  by  Mr.  Dispan  to  the  perpendicular  Descent  of  Hoar 
Frost,  are  not  so  general  as  to  support  his  Theory.     Vol.  xvi. 

27.  Remarks  on  Torpidity  in  Animals.  In  two  letters. 
Vol.  xviii. 

28.  Description  of  a  correct  Chamber  Barometer.     Vol. 


29.  An  Essay  on  Polygonal  Numbers,  containing  the  De- 
monstration of  a  Proposition  respecting  whole  Numbers  in 
general.     Vol.  xxi. 

30.  A  Mathematical  Problem,  with  the  Investigation. 

3J.  Answer  to  Mr.  Barlow's  Remarks  on  the  Essay  on  Po- 
lygonal Numbers.     Vol.  xxii. 

39.  An  Abstract  of  a  Meteorological  Journal  for  the  Years 
1807    and   1808,    kept  at  Middleshaw,  near  Kendal.      Vol. 


33.  Experiments  on  the  Expansion  of  moist  Air  raised  to 
the  boiling  Temperature.     Ibid. 

34.  An  Inquiry,  geometrical  and  arithmetical,  into  cer- 
tain Properties  of  Solids  in  general;  and  of  the  five  regular 
Bodies  in  particular.     Vol.  xxx. 

35.  On  the  Place  of  a  Sound  produced  by  a  Musical 
String.     Vol.  xxxii. 

OF    GOUGH.  83 

36.     Remarks  on  the  Perforations  made  in  Paper  by  elec- 
trical Batteries.     Vol.  xxxv. 


Wilkinson's  Mountain   Rambles. — Nicholson's  Annals 
of  Kendal. 

84  THE    LIFE 



Commonly  called  ''Blind  JacV'  of  Knaresborough. 

•*  The  fell  disease  deprived  him  of  his  sight, 
And  left  to  grope  his  way  in  endless  night." 

We  almost  invariably  find  that  Nature,  in  with- 
holding from  man  the  benefit  of  one  sense,  compen- 
sates the  deficiency  by  the  superior  perfection  in  which 
she  bestows  others.  The  extraordinary  particulars  re- 
lated in  the  following  pages  strikingly  exemplify  this 
observation,  and  shew  to  what  a  degree  the  power  of 
habit,  and  a  good  understanding,  are  capable  of  over- 
coming impediments  apparently  insuimountable.  For 
instance,  who  would  expect  to  find  a  man  totally 
blind  from  his  infancy,  superintending  the  building 
of  bridges  and  the  construction  of  high  roads;  oc- 
cupations for  which  his  defect  would  seem  to  have 
wholly  disqualified  him.  These,  however,  were  un- 
dertakings that  Metcalf  successfully  executed  ;  and 
which,  together  with  many  singular  adventures  in 
which  he  engaged,  cannot  fail  to  excite  no  small  de- 
gree of  astonishment  and  admiration. 

OF    METCALF.  85 

John  Metcalf  was  born  in  1717,  at  Knares- 
borough,  in  Yorkshire  ;  when  four  years  of  age  his 
parents,  who  were  labouring  people,  put  him  to  school, 
where  he  continued  two  years.  At  the  expiration  of 
that  time,  he  was  seized  with  the  small  pox,  which 
deprived  him  of  his  sight,  in  spite  of  all  the  means 
that  were  employed  for  its  preservation.  About 
six  months  after  his  recovery,  he  was  able  to  go  from 
his  father's  house  to  the  end  of  the  street,  and  to  re- 
turn, without  a  guide ;  and  in  about  three  years  he 
could  find  his  way  alone  to  any  part  of  Knaresbo- 
rough.  About  this  period  he  began  to  associate  with 
boys  of  his  own  age,  among  whom  he  acted  a  distin- 
guished part  in  the  juvenile  pranks  of  taking  birds' 
nests,  and  robbing  orchards.  As  his  father  kept 
horses,  he  learned  to  ride,  ar.d  soon  became  a  good 
horseman,  a  gallop  being  his  favourite  pace.  At  the 
age  of  thirteen  he  was  taught  music,  in  which  he 
made  great  proficiency,  though  the  cry  of  a  hound  or 
a  harrier  was  more  congenial  to  his  taste,  than  the 
sound  of  an  instrument.  He  kepit  hounds  of  his  own, 
and   frequently  hunted   with   a  Mr.   Woodburn*  of 

*  Metcalf,  with  some  other  young  men,  expressed  a  great 
desire  for  a  day's  sport;  and  knowing  that  Mr.  A\"oodbiun 
the  master  of  the  Knartsborough  pack  of  hounds,  had  often 
lent  them  to  Metcalf  for  the  same  purpose,  they  doubted  not 
of  the  success  of  his  application.  On  the  evening  before  the 
appointed  day  Metcalf  went,  flushed  with  hope,  to  Mr 
Woodburn,  requesting  him  to  lend  the  pack  for  the  next  day. 
This  was  a  favour  out  of  his  povrer  to  grant,  having  engaged 
to  meet  Squire  Trapps  with  the  hounds  next  morning,  upon 
Scoton  Moor,  for  the  purpose  of  entering  some  young  fox 
hounds.  Chagrined  at  this,  Metcalf  debated  with  himself 

86  THE    LIFE 

Kuaresborough,  who  kept  a  pack,  and  was  alvvaj's 
very  desirous  of  Metcalfs  company  in  the  chase. 
When  about  fourteen  years  old,  his  activity  and  the 
success  with  which  his  enterprises  were  usually  at- 
tended, led  him  to  imagine  that  he  might  undertake 
any  thing  without  danger,  and  greatly  consoled  him 
for  the  want  of  sight ;  but  he  was  taught  to  regret  its 
loss  by  a  severe  wound  he  received,  in  consequence 
of  a  fall  into  a  gravel-pit,  while  making  his  retreat 
from  a  plum-tree  in  which  he  had  been  surprised  by 
the  owner. 

whether  the  disappointment  should  fall  to  Mr.  Woodburn's 
friends,  or  his  own:  determining  that  it  should  not  be  the  lot 
ot  the  latter,  hearose  the  next  morning  before  day  break,  and 
crossed  the  high  bridge,  near  which  he  had  the  advantage  of 
the  joint  echoes  of  the  old  castle  and  Belmont-wood.  He  had 
jarought  with  him  an  extraordinarily  good  hound  of  his  own, 
and  taking  him  by  the  ears,  made  him  give  mouth  very  loudly, 
himself  giving  some  halloos  at  the  same  time.  This  device 
had  so  good  an  effect,  that  iu  a  few  minutes  he  had  nine 
couple  about  him,  as  the  hounds  were  kept  by  various  people 
about  the  shambles,  and  were  suffered  to  lie  unkennelled. 
Mounting  his  horse,  away  he  rode  with  the  dogs  to  Harrowgate, 
where  he  met  his  friends  ready  mounted  and  in  high  spirits. 
Some  of  them  proposed  going  to  Biiton  Wood,  near  Kn ares- 
borough,  but  this  was  opposed  by  Metcalf,  who  preferred  the 
Moor;  in  fact,  he  was  apprehensive  of  being  followed  by  Mr- 
Woodburu,  and  wished  to  be  failher  from  Kuaresborough  on 
that  account.  Pursuant  to  his  advice,  they  drew  the  Moor 
at  the  distance  of  five  miles,  when  they  started  a  hare,  killed 
her  after  a  fine  chase,  and  immediately  put  up  another;  just 
at  this  moment  came  up  Mr.  Woodburn,  very  angry,  threat- 
ening to  send  Metcalf  to  the  house  of  correction,  and  his 
passion  rising  to  the  utmost  he  rode  up  w  ith  an  intention  to 

OF    METCALF.  87 

About  this  period  he  learned  to  swim,  and  soon 
became  so  very  expert  that  his  companions  did  not 
choose  to  come  near  him  in  the  water,  it  being  his 
custom  to  seize  and  plunge  them  to  the  bottom,  and 
then  swim  over  them  by  way  of  diversion.  In  this 
year  two  men  being  drowned  in  the  deeps  of  the  river 
Nid,  Metcalf  was  employed  to  seek  for  their  bodies, 
and  succeeded  in  bringing  up  one  of  them. 

A  friend  of  his  named  Baker,  having  carried  two 
packs  of  yarn  to  wash  at  the  river,  they  were  swept 
away  by  a  sudden  swelling  of  the  current,  and  carried 
through  the  arches  of  the  bridge,  which  is  founded  on 
a  rock.     A  little  below  there  is  a  piece  of  still  water, 

horse-whip  him,  which  Metcalf  prevented  by  galloping  out  of 
his  reach.  Mr.  Woodburn  then  endeavoured  to  call  off  the 
hounds,  but  Metcalf,  knowing  the  fleetness  of  his  own  horse, 
ventured  within  speaking,  though  not  within  whipping  distance 
of  him,  and  begged  that  he  would  not  spoil  them  by  taking 
them  off,  and  that  he  was  sure  they  would  (as  they  actually  did,) 
kill  in  a  very  short  time.  Metcalf  soon  found  that  Mr.  Wood- 
burn's  anger  had  begun  to  abate,  and  going  nearer  to  him, 
pleaded  in  excuse  a  misunderstanding  of  his  plan,  which  he 
said  he  thought  had  been  fixed  for  the  day  after.  The  apology 
succeeded  with  this  good  natured  gentleman  who,  giving  the 
hare  to  Metcalf,  desired  he  would  accompany  him  to  Scoton 
Moor,  whither,  though  late,  he  would  go,  rather  than  wholly 
disappoint  Mr.  Trapps.  Metcalf  proposed  to  his  friend  to 
cross  the  river  Nid  at  Holm  bottom;  and  Mr.  Woodburn  not 
being  acquainted  with  the  ford,  he  again  undertook  the  office 
of  guide,  and  leading  the  way,  they  soon  arrived  at  Scoton 
Moor,  where  Mr.  Trapps  and  his  company  had  waited  for 
them  several  hours.  Mr.  Woodburn  explained  the  cause  of 
the  delay,  and  being  now  able  to  participate  in  the  joke,  the 
affair  ended  very  agreeably. 

I  2 

88  THE    LIFE 

supposed  to  be  about  twenty-one  feet  in  depth  ;  as 
soon  as  the  yarn  came  to  this  place  it  sunk.  Metcalf 
promised  to  recover  the  yarn  for  his  friend,  but  the 
latter  smiled  at  the  supposed  absurdity  of  the  attempt; 
he,  however,  procured  some  long  cart  ropes,  fixed  a 
hook  at  one  end,  and  leaving  the  other  to  be  held  by 
some  persons  on  the  high  bridge,  he  descended,  and 
by  degrees  recovered  the  whole  of  the  yarn. 

He  continued  to  practice  on  the  violin,  till  he  was 
able  to  play  country  dances.  During  the  winter 
season,  he  performed  as  a  wait  at  Knaresborough,  with 
three  others ;  he  likewise  attended  the  assenibhes 
which  were  held  every  fortnight,  and  frequented  many 
other  places  where  there  was  public  dancing.  Not- 
withstanding these  engagements,  he  found  opportunity 
for  playing  his  neighbours  a  number  of  mischievous 
tricks,  and  for  a  long  time  escaped  suspicion.  At 
length,  however,  his  expertness  became  known,  and 
when  any  arch  trick  had  been  played,  it  was  always 
the  first  inquiry,  where  Metcalf  had  been  at  that  time. 

Though  he  was  fully  engaged,  he  still  retained  his 
fondness  for  hunting,  and  also  began  to  keep  game 
cocks.  Whenever  he  went  to  a  cock-pit,  it  was  his 
custom  to  place  himself  on  the  lowest  seat,  near  some 
friend  who  was  a  good  judge,  and  who,  by  certain  mo- 
tions, enabled  him  to  bet,  hedge,  &c. 

In  1732,  he  was  invited  to  Harrowgate  to  play  at 
the  assembly,  as  successor  to  a  poor  old  man,  who, 
borne  down  by  the  weight  of  one  hundred  years,  be- 
gan to  play  too  slowly  for  country  dances.  Here  he 
was  well  received  by  the  visiting  nobility  and  gentry. 
In  this  employment  he  passed  his  evenings,  and  the 

OF    METCALF.  89 

mornings  he  spent  in  cock  fighting,  hunting,  and 
coursing.  About  this  period  also  he  bought  a  horse, 
and  often  ran  him  for  small  plates ;  and  his  musical 
engagements  increasing,  he  took  a  partner  who  was 
likewise  a  good  performer. 

In  summer  he  often  played  at  bowls,  and,  singular 
as  it  may  seem,  was  frequently  the  winner.  Cards 
likewise  began  to  engage  his  attention,  and  he  gene- 
rally won  the  majority  of  the  games.  But  these 
achievements  were  far  from  limiting  his  ambition  or 
capacity,  for  he  now  began  to  attend  the  races  at 
York,  and  other  places.  At  the  race  ground  he  com- 
monly rode  in  among  the  crowd,  and  was  often  suc- 
cessful in  his  bets,  in  which  he  was,  however,  assisted 
by  several  gentlemen  to  whom  he  was  known.  Having 
once  matched  one  of  his  horses  to  run  three  miles  for 
a  considerable  wager,  and  the  parties  agreeing  each 
to  ride  his  own  horse,  they  set  up  posts  at  certain  dis- 
tances on  the  Forrest  Moor,  describing  a  circle  of  one 
mile,  having  consequently  to  go  three  times  round 
the  course.  Under  the  idea  that  Metcalf  would  be 
unable  to  keep  the  course,  great  odds  were  laid  against 
him,  but  his  ingenuity  furnished  him  with  an  expe- 
dient in  this  dilemma.  He  procured  some  bells,  and 
placing  a  man  with  one  at  each  post,  was  enabled  by 
the  ringing  to  judge  when  to  turn;  by  this  contrivance, 
and  the  superior  speed  of  his  horse,  he  came  in  winner 
amidst  the  applause  of  all  present,  except  those  who 
had  betted  against  him.  At  different  times  he  bought 
horses  to  sell  again,  which  he  often  did  with  a  large 
profit,  so  accurate  was  his  judgment. 

In  1738,  Metcalf  attained  the  age  of  twenty-one ; 
I  3 

90  THE    LIFE 

he  was  extremely  robust,  and  six  feet  one  inch  and  a 
half  in  height.  About  this  time  he  acquired  con- 
siderable celebrity  as  a  pugilist,  from  the  following 
circumstance.  A  friend  of  his  being  insulted  in  a 
public  house  by  a  man  who,  from  his  ferocious  tem- 
per and  great  strength,  was  the  general  dread  of  the 
neighbourhood,  Metcalf  bestowed  on  him  such  disci- 
pline as  soon  extorted  a  cry  for  mercy. 

Returning  one  day  on  foot  from  Harrowgate,  he 
had  proceeded  about  a  mile,  when  he  was  overtaken 
by  a  Knaresborough  man  on  horseback,  who  proposed, 
for  two  shillings'  worth  of  punch,  to  let  him  ride  in 
turn,  dividing  the  distances  equally.  Metcalf  agreed, 
on  condition  that  he  should  have  the  first  ride,  to 
which  his  townsman  assented  on  these  terms;  that  he 
should  ride  a  little  beyond  Poppleton  field,  where  he 
would  see  a  gate  on  his  right  hand,  to  which  he 
should  fasten  the  horse.  Metcalf,  however,  rode  for- 
ward to  Knaresborough,  which  was  seventeen  miles 
from  the  place  where  he  left  his  fellow  traveller.  The 
latter  was  greatly  enraged  at  being  obliged  to  walk  so 
far,  but  Metcalf  pleading  in  excuse  that  he  never  saw 
the  gate,  the  man  found  it  his  interest  to  join  in  the 

He  was  now  in  the  prime  of  life,  and  possessed  a 
peculiar  archness  of  disposition,  with  an  uncommon 
flow  of  spirits,  and  unparalleled  contempt  of  danger  ; 
and  though  his  conduct  was  long  marked  by  a  variety 
of  mischievous  tricks,  yet  he  afterwards  planned  and 
brought  to  perfection  several  schemes,  both  of  private 
and  public  utility. 

When  the   Harrowf^ate  season  was  over,  Metcalf 

or    METCALF.  91 

always  remained  a  few  days,  and  passed  his  evenings 
at  one  or  other  of  the  difTerent  inns.  At  the  Royal 
Oak,  now  the  Granhy,  he  attracted  the  notice  of  Miss 
Benson,  the  landlady's  daughter,  whose  constant 
attention  and  kindness  soon  inspired  him  with  a  reci- 
procal affection  ;  knowing,  however,  that  her  mother 
would  oppose  their  union,  various  successful  devices 
were  employed  to  conceal  their  mutual  partiality,  and 
frequent  meetings.  An  event,  however,  occurred, 
which  obliged  Metcalf  to  quit  not  only  the  object 
of  his  attachment,  but  likewise  that  part  of  the 
country.  During  his  absence  a  Mr.  Dickenson  had 
paid  his  addresses  to  Miss  Benson,  and  now  urged 
his  suit  with  such  ardour,  that  the  banns  were  pub- 
lished and  the  wetlding-day  appointed,  to  the  no  small 
mortification  of  Metcalf,  who  thought  himself  secure 
of  her  affection  ;  but  though  he  loved  her  tenderly, 
his  pride  prevented  him  from  manifesting  his  feelings, 
or  attempting  to  prevent  the  match.  On  the  day  pre- 
ceding that  on  which  the  nuptials  were  to  be  celebrated, 
Metcalf,  riding  past  the  Royal  Oak,  was  accosted 
with,  "one  wants  to  speak  with  you."  He  immedi- 
ately turned  towards  the  stables  of  the  Oak,  and  there 
to  his  joy  and  surprise,  he  found  the  object  of  his 
love,  who  had  sent  her  mother's  servant  to  call  him. 
After  some  explanation,  an  elopement  was  resolved 
upon,  which  Metcalf,  with  the  assistance  of  a  friend, 
effected  that  night,  and  the  next  morning  they  were 
united.  The  confusion  of  his  rival,  who  had  provided 
an  entertainment  for  two  hundred  people,  may  easily 
be  conceived.  Mrs.Benson,  being  much  enraged  at  her 
daughter's  conduct,  refused  either  to  see  her  or  give  up 

92  THE    LIFE 

her  clothes;  nor  was  she  reconciled  to  her  till  she  was 
delivered  of  her  second  child,  on  which  occasion  she 
stood  sponsor  for  it,  and  presented  Metcalf  with  his 
wife's  fortune.  It  now  became  a  matter  of  wonder  that 
she  should  have  preferred  a  blind  man  to  Dickenson, 
she  being  as  handsome  a  woman  as  any  in  the  country. 
A  lady  having  asked  her  why  she  refused  so  many 
good  offers  for  Blind  Jack,  she  answered,  "  because 
I  could  not  be  happy  without  him."  And  being  more 
particularly  questioned,  she  replied,  '*  his  actions  are 
so  singular,  and  his  spirit  so  manly  and  enterprising, 
that  T  could  not  help  liking  him." 

He  now  purchased  a  house  at  Knaresbo rough,  and 
continued  to  play  at  Harrowgate  in  the  season;  and 
set  up  a  four  wheeled  chaise  and  a  one  horse  chair 
for  public  accommodation,  there  having  been  nothing 
of  the  kind  there  before.  He  kept  these  vehicles  two 
summers,  when  the  inn-keepers  beginning  to  run 
chaises,  he  gave  them  up,  as  he  also  did  racing  and 
hunting ;  but  still  wanting  employment,  he  bought 
horses,  and  went  to  the  coast  for  fish,  which  he  took 
to  Leeds  and  Manchester.  So  indefatigable  was  he 
that  he  frequently  walked  for  two  nights  and  a  day, 
with  little  or  no  rest,  for  as  a  family  was  coming  on, 
he  was  as  eager  for  business  as  he  had  been  for  diver- 
sion ;  still  keeping  up  his  spirits,  as  Providence  en- 
dowed him  with  good  health.  Going  from  Knares- 
borough  to  Leeds  in  a  snow  storm,  and  crossing  a 
brook,  the  ice  gave  way  under  one  of  his  horses,  and 
he  was  under  the  necessity  of  unloading  to  get  him  out ; 
but  the  horse,  as  soon  as  free,  ran  back  to  Knares- 
borough,  leaving  him  with  two  panniers  of  fish,  and 

OF    METCALF.  93 

three  other  loaded  horses,  which,  together  with  the 
hadness  of  the  night,  greatly  perplexed  him ;  after 
much  difficulty,  however,  he  divided  the  weight 
amongst  the  other  three,  and  pursuing  his  route,  he 
arrived  at  Leeds  hy  break  of  day.  But  the  profits  of 
this  business  being  but  small,  and  the  fatigue  exces- 
sive, he  soon  abandoned  it. 

At  the  commencement  of  the  rebellion,  in  1745, 
he  exchanged  his  situation  as  violin  player  at  Harrow- 
gate,  for  the  profession  of  arms.  This  singular  event 
was  brought  about  in  the  following  manner;  William 
Thornton,  Esq.  of  Thornville,  having  resolved  to 
raise  a  company  at  his  own  expense,  asked  Metcalf, 
who  was  well  known  to  him,  whether  he  would  join 
the  company  about  to  be  raised,  and  whether  he  knew 
of  any  spirited  fellows  likely  to  make  good  soldiers. 
Upon  his  replying  in  the  affirmative,  he  was  appointed 
assistant  to  a  sergeant,  and  in  two  days  raised  one 
hundred  and  forty  four  men,  out  of  which  the  Captain 
drafted  sixty  four,  the  number  of  privates  he  wanted. 
With  this  company,  among  whom  was  Metcalf  as 
musician.  Captain  Thornton  joined  the  army  under 
General  Wade.  In  the  first  battle  in  which  they 
were  engaged  twenty  of  the  men,  with  the  Lieutenant 
and  Ensign,  were  made  prisoners,  and  the  Captain 
himself  very  narrowly  escaped.  Metcalf,  after  a  va- 
riety of  adventures,  rejoined  his  patron,  and  was 
always  in  the  field  during  the  diflferent  engagements 
which  succeeded.  After  the  battle  of  Culloden,  he 
returned  to  his  family  at  Knaresborough,  and  had  the 
happiness  to  find  his  faithful  partner  and  children  in 
good  health.     His  wife  confessed  that  she  had  enter^ 

94  THE    LIFE 

tained  many  fears  for  her  poor  blind  adventurer,  yet 
knowing  that  a  spirit  of  enterprise  made  a  part  of  his 
nature,  she  was  often  comforted  by  the  hope  that  he 
would,  in  some  degree,  signalize  himself,  notwith- 
standing the  misfortune  under  which  he  laboured. 
This  declaration,  following  a  most  cordial  reception, 
gave  full  confirmation  to  an  opinion  which  Metcalf 
had  ever  held,  that  the  caresses  and  approbation  of 
the  softer  sex  are  the  highest  reward  that  a  man  can 

Being  again  at  liberty  to  choose  his  occupation,  he 
attended  Harrowgate  as  usual.  During  his  Scotch 
expedition,  he  had  become  acquainted  with  various 
articles  manufactured  in  that  country,  and  judging 
that  he  might  dispose  of  some  of  them  to  advantage 
in  England,  he  repaired  in  the  spring  to  Scotland, 
and  furnished  himself  with  a  variety  of  cotton  and 
worsted  articles,  for  which  he  found  a  ready  sale  in 
his  native  country;  among  a  thousand  articles  he 
knew  what  each  cost  him,  from  a  particular  mode  of 
marking  them.  He  not  only  frequently  dealt  in 
horses,  directing  his  choice  by  feeling  the  animal,* 
but  he  also  engaged  pretty  deeply  in  contraband  trade, 
the  profits  of  which  were  at  that  time  much  more 

*The  Queen's  Bays  at  this  time  were  quartered  at  Durham, 
and  four  horses  were  to  be  sold  from  each  troop.  Metcalf  had 
notice  sent  him  of  the  sale,  but  did  not  receive  the  letter  until 
the  day  before  it  commenced;  he  set  off,  however,  that  after- 
noon from  Durham,  and  riding  all  night,  got  there  by  day 
break.  His  first  business  was  to  become  acquainted  with  the 
farriers,  whom  he  began  to  question  as  to  the  horses  which  were 
to  be  sold.     Amongst  the  number  to  be  disposed  of  was  a  grey 

OF    METCALF.  95 

considerable  than  the  risk.  One  time  in  particular 
having  received  a  pressing  letter  from  Newcastle- 
upon-Tyne  requiring  his  speedy  attendance,  he  set 
out  on  horse-back  at  three  in  the  morning,  and  got 
into  Newcastle  in  the  evening  about  six  o'clock,  the 
distance  being  nearly  seventy-four  miles,  and  without 
much  fatigue.  Having  received  some  packages,  he 
employed  a  few  soldiers  to  convey  them  to  a  carrier, 
supposing  that  men  of  their  description  were  least 
liable  to  suspicion.  After  sending  off  his  goods, 
he   staid   two   nights   with   some  relations   he   had 

one  belonging  to  one  of  the  drums;  the  man  who  had  the 
charge  of  him  not  having  been  sufficiently  careful  in  trimming 
him,  had  burnt  him  severely,  which  caused  a  prodigious 
swelling.  Had  this  careless  conduct  been  known  to  his  superi- 
ors, he  would  have  been  punished  for  it,  and  upon  that  ac- 
count the  matter  was  hushed  up.  Metcalf,  however,  apprised 
of  the  real  cause  in  the  course  of  his  conversation  with  the 
farriers,  determined  to  purchase  him,  supposing  that  they 
would  be  desirous  to  part  with  him  at  any  price ;  and  in  this 
supposition  he  was  not  mistaken.  The  sale  began  by  bringing 
out  seven  bay  horses,  six  of  which  a  gentleman  bought  for  a 
carriage,  and  Metcalf  purchased  the  seventh  ;  they  then 
brought  forward  the  grey  horse,  which  our  chapman  bought 
at  the  very  low  price  of  three  pounds  fifteen  shillings,  which 
was  first  affixed  by  the  auctioneer,  but  which,  however,  the 
people  said  was  very  much  beyond  the  value.  Having  used 
such  applications  as  he  chought  efficacious  for  his  recovery, 
by  the  time  he  had  got  him  home,  he  had  the  satisfaction  to 
find  him  perfectly  recovered,  and  wiihin  a  week  afterwards 
refused  fifteen  guineas  for  him;  he  kept  him  many  years  as 
a  draught  horse,  and  the  other  horse  also  was  sold  to  a  profit, 
by  which  he  thought  himself  very  well  paid  for  his  trip  to 



there,  and  then  set  out  home.  He  had  with  him 
about  a  hundred  weight  of  tea,  cased  over  with  tow, 
and  tightly  corded  up ;  this  he  put  into  a  wallet 
which  he  laid  across  his  saddle.  Coming  to  Ches- 
ter-le- street,  about  half  way  between  Newcastle  and 
Durham,  he  met  at  the  inn  an  exciseman,  who  knew 
him  as  soon  as  he  had  dismounted,  and  asked  him 
what  he  had  got  there.  Metcalf  answered,  "It  is 
some  tow  and  line  for  my  aunt,  who  lives  a  few  miles 
distant ;  I  wish  she  was  far  enough  for  giving  me  the 
trouble  to  fetch  it."  The  officer  asked  him  to  bring  it 
in,  but  he  replied, ''  For  the  time  I  shall  stay,  it  may 
as  well  remain  on  the  horsing  stone."  By  this  seeming 
indifference  about  his  package,  he  removed  suspicion 
from  the  mind  of  the  exciseman,  who  assisted  in  re- 
placing it  across  the  saddle ;  he  then  pursued  his 
journey  and  got  home  in  safety.]  Once,  having  dis- 
posed of  a  string  of  horses,  he  bought  with  the  pro- 
duce, a  quantity  of  rum,  brandy,  and  tea,  to  the 
amount  of  £200,  put  them  on  board  a  vessel  for 
Leith,  and  travelled  over  land  on  foot,  to  meet  the 
vessel  there  ;  he  had  about  thirty  miles  to  walk,  and 
carried  near  five  stone  weight  of  goods  which  he  did 
not  choose  to  put  on  ship  board.  At  Leith  he  had  the 
mortification  to  wait  six  weeks,  without  receiving  any 
tidings  of  the  vessel,  which  many  supposed  to  have 
been  lost,  there  having  been  a  storm  in  the  interval. 
The  distress  of  mind  resulting  from  this,  induced  him 
once  to  say;  "if  she  is  lost,  I  wish  I  had  been  in  her; 
for  she  had  all  my  property  on  board."  Soon  after, 
however,  the  ship  got  into  Leith  harbour ;  he  then 
went  on  board,  and  set  sail  for  Newc?4Slle,  but  another 

OF    METCALF.  97 

storm  arising,  the  mate  was  washed  overboard,  the 
mainsail  carried  away,  and  the  ship  was  driven  near 
the  coast  of  Norway.  Despair  became  general,  and 
the  prospect  of  going  to  the  bottom  seemed  almost 
certain.  It  now  appeared  to  him  a  dreadful  thing  to 
leave  the  world  in  the  midst  of  health  and  vigour ; 
he  reflected  on  the  impiety  of  his  wish  respecting  the 
former  storm,  and  so  effectually  was  his  way  of  think- 
ing changed,  that  had  he  had  all  the  wealth  in  the 
universe,  he  would  have  given  it  to  have  been  on  shore. 
The  wind  however  changing,  hope  began  to  return, 
and  the  Captain  put  about  for  the  Scotch  coast,  in- 
tending to  reach  Aberbrothick.  A  signal  of  distress 
was  put  up,  but  the  sea  ran  so  high,  that  no  boat 
could  venture  out  with  a  pilot ;  he  then  stood  in  for 
the  harbour,  but  struck  against  the  pier  end,  owing 
to  the  unmanageable  state  of  the  vessel,  from  the  loss 
of  her  mainsail.  She  naiTowly  escaped  being  bilged, 
but  having  got  to  the  back  of  the  pier,  was  towed 
round  into  the  harbour,  with  near  five  feet  water  in 
the  hold.  Her  escape  from  the  merciless  elements, 
however,  did  not  seem  to  terminate  her  dangers,  the 
country  people  shewing  a  disposition  to  seize  the 
ship  as  a  wreck,  and  plunder  her;  but  fortunately 
there  was  at  hand  a  party  consisting  of  an  officer  and 
twenty  men,  of  Pulteney's  regiment,  who  had  been 
in  pursuit  of  some  smugglers,  and  Metcalf  knowing 
them  well,  as  Captain  Thornton's  company  was  at- 
tached to  that  regiment,  the  officer  sent  three  files  of 
men  to  protect  the  vessel,  while  the  crew  were  re- 
moving the  goods  to  a  warehouse.  As  the  vessel 
stood  in  need  of  repairs,  Metcalf  put  his  goods  on 

98  THE    LITE 

board  another,  aiid  sailed  for  Newcastle.  There  he 
met  with  an  acquaintance,  and  from  the  seeming 
cordiality  of  the  meeting,  he  thought  he  might  have 
trusted  his  life  in  the  hands  of  this  man.  With  this 
impression,  Metcalf  opened  to  him  the  state  of  his 
affairs;  informing  him  that  he  had  got  four  hundred 
gallons  of  gin  and  brandy,  for  which  he  had  a  permit, 
and  about  thirty  gallons  for  which  he  had  none,  and 
which  he  wanted  to  land ;  telling  him,  at  the  same 
time,  of  the  harrassing  voyage  he  had  just  finished. 
But  it  seems  his  misfortunes  were  only  about  to  com- 
mence ;  for  in  a  quai'ter  of  an  hour,  he  found  that 
the  man  whom  he  had  taken  for  a  friend,  had  gone 
down  to  the  quay  side,  and  giving  information  of 
what  he  knew,  all  the  goods  were  seized  and  brought 
on  shore.  Metcalf  imagined  that  none  were  seizable 
but  the  small  part  for  which  he  had  not  obtained  a 
permit;  but  was  soon  undeceive<l,  the  whole  being 
liable  to  seizure  as  not  agreeing  with  the  specified 
quantity.  He  then  repaired  to  the  Custom  House, 
and  applied  to  IVIr.  Sunderland,  the  collector;  this 
gentleman,  being  in  the  habit  of  visiting  HaiTowgate, 
knew  INIetcalf,  and  received  him  very  kindly,  but  in- 
formed him  that  it  was  not  in  his  power  to  serve  him, 
the  captors  being  the  excise  officers,  and  not  un- 
der his  control.  He,  however,  suggested  that  some 
good  might  result  from  an  application  to  Alderman 
Peireth,  with  whom  Metcalf  was  acquainted,  and  who 
was  particularly  intimate  with  the  collector  of  the 
excise.  The  good  alderman  gave  him  a  letter  to  the 
collector,  representing,  as  instructed  by  Metcalf,  that 
the  bearer  had  bought  400  gallons  of  spirits  at  the 

OF   METCALF.  99 

Custom-house  at  Aberdeen ;  and  that  the  extra  quan- 
tity was  for  the  purpose  of  treating  the  sailors  and 
other  friends,  as  well  as  for  sea-stock  for  himself.  At 
first  the  collector  told  him  that  he  could  do  nothing 
for  him,  until  he  should  write  up  to  the  board,  and 
receive  an  answer  ;  but  Metcalf  remonstrating  on  the 
inconvenience  of  the  delay,  and  the  other  re-consider- 
ing the  letter,  he  agreed  to  come  down  to  the  quay 
at  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  which  he  accordingly 
did,  and  released  every  thing  without  ex]3ense. 

In  1751,  he  commenced  a  new  employment ;  he 
set  up  a  stage  waggon  betwixt  York  and  Knaresbo- 
rough,  being  the  first  on  that  road,  and  drove  it 
himself,  twice  a  week  in  the  summer,  and  once  in 
winter.  This  business,  with  the  occasional  convey- 
ance of  army  baggage,*  employed  his  attention  till  the 

*  A  short  time  after  the  regiment,  called  the  Queen's  Bays, 
was  raised,  it  was  quartered  at  Knaresborough  and  the  ad- 
jacent towns ;  but  after  a  short  stay,  it  was  ordered  to  the 
North.  The  country  people  seemed  extremely  unwilling 
to  supply  carriages  for  conveying  the  baggage,  the  King's 
allowance  being  but  nine-pence  a  mile  per  ton  ;  that  of  the 
county,  one  shilliug  in  the  West-riding,  and  fifteen  pence  in 
the  North-riding.  Metcalf  having  two  waggons,  (one  of  them 
covered,)  had  a  mind  to  try  this  business ;  and,  to  make  sure 
of  a  journey,  got  the  soldiers  to  press  his  two  carriages,  which 
were  accordingly  loaded,  himself  attending  them  to  Durham. 
Previously  to  loading,  however,  the  country  people,  who  knew 
the  advantage  of  carrying  for  the  army,  and  who  had  kept 
back  in  hopes  of  an  advance  in  the  price,  came  forward  with 
their  waggons  in  opposition  to  Metcalf,  but  the  soldiers 
would  have  no  other.  Arriving  at  Durham,  he  met  Bland's 
Dragoons,  on  their  march  from  the  North  to  York  ;  they 
loaded  his  waggons  again  for  Northallerton,  and  would  wil- 


100  THE    LIFE 

period  of  his  first  contracting  for  the  making  of  roads^ 
which  engagement  suiting  him  better,  he  relinquished 
every  other  pursuit.  During  his  leisure  hours,  he  had 
studied  mensuration  in  a  way  peculiar  to  himself;  and 
when  certain  of  the  girth  and  length  of  any  piece  of 
timber,  he  was  able  accurately  to  reduce  its  contents 
to  square  feet  and  inches,  and  could  bring  the  dimen- 
sions of  any  building  into  yards  or  feet.  The  first 
piece  of  road  he  made,  was  about  three  miles  of  that 
between  Fearnsby  and  Minskip,  and  the  materials  for 
the  whole  were  to  be  produced  from  one  gravel- pit ; 
he  therefore  provided  deal  boards,  and  erected  a  tempo- 
rary house  at  the  pit;  took  a  dozen  horses  to  the  place; 
fixed  racks  and  mangers,  and  hired  a  house  for  his 
men,  at  Minskip.  He  often  walked  to  Knaresbo- 
rough  in  the  morning,  with  four  or  five  stones  of  meal 
on  his  shoulders,  and  joined  his  men  by  six  o'clock. 
He  completed  the  road  much  sooner  than  was  ex- 
pected, to  the  entire  satisfaction  of  the  surveyor  and 
rustees.f     Soon  after  this,  he  contracted  for  building 

liugly  have  engaged  them  to  York,  but  this  he  was  obliged  to 
decline,  having  promised  to  bring  twenty  three  wool-packs  to 
Kuaresborough.  He  was  just  six  days  in  performing  this  jour- 
ney, and  cleared,  with  eight  horses  and  the  one  he  rode,  no 
less  a  sum  than  twenty  pounds ;  though  many  people  were 
afraid  to  travel  with  soldiers. 

f  "The  blind  projector  of  roads  would  reply  to  me,  when  I 
expressed  myself  surprised  at  the  accuracy  of  his  discrimina- 
tions, that  there  was  nothing  surprising  in  the  matter ;  'you, 
sir,'  says  he,  'can  have  recourse  to  your  eye  sight  whenever 
you  want  to  see  or  examine  any  thing,  whereas  I  have  only 
my  memory  to  trust  to.  There  is,  however  one  advantage,  that 
I  possess  i  the  readiness  with  which  at  pleasure  you  view  an 

OF   METCALF.  101 

a  bridge  at  Boroiighb ridge,  which  he  completed  with 
credit  to  his  abilities.  The  business  of  making  roads, 
and  building  and  repairing  bridges,  in  Yorkshire, 
Lancashire,  Derbyshire,  and  Cheshire,  be  continued 
with  great  success  until  the  year  1792,  when  he  re- 
turned to  his  native  county. 

In  the  summer  of  1788,  he  lost  his  wife,  in  the 
sixty  first  year  of  her  age,  and  the  fortieth  of  their 
union,  leaving  four  children.  She  was  interred  in  the 
church-yard  of  Stockport,  in  Cheshire,  where  they 
then  resided. 

After  some  unsuccessful  speculations  in  the  cotton 
trade,  Metcalf  returned  to  Yorkshire  ;  and  for  want 
of  other  engagements,  he  bought  hay  to  sell  again". 
He  measured  the  stacks  with  his  arms,  and  having 
learned  the  height,  he  could  readily  tell  what  number 
of  square  yards  were  contained,  in  a  stack  of  any 
value  between  one  and  five  hundred  pounds.  Some- 
times he  bought  a  little  standing  wood,  and  if  he  could 
get  the  girth  and  height,  would  calculate  the  solid 

objects,  prevents  the  necessity  of  fixing  the  ideas  of  it  deeply 
in  your  mind,  and  the  impressions,  in  general,  become  quickly 
obliterated.  On  the  contrary,  the  information  I  possess,  being 
acquired  with  greater  difficulty,  is  on  that  very  account,  so 
firmly  fixed  on  the  memory,  as  to  be  almost  indelible,'  I 
made  some  inquiries  respecting  this  new  road  he  was  now 
making ;  it  was  really  astonishing,  to  hear  with  what  accuracy 
he  described  the  courses  and  nature  of  the  different  soils, 
through  which  it  was  conducted.  Having  mentioned  to  him  a 
boggy  piece  of  ground  it  passed  through,  he  observed  that 
that  was  the  only  place  he  had  doubts  concerning ;  and  that 
he  was  apprehensive  they  had,  contrary  to  his  directions,  been 
too  sparing  of  their  materials.''  From  Dr.  Beiv's  account. 


102  THE    LIFE 

In  addition  to   this  brief  history  of  the  life  of  this 
singular  character^  the  reader  will  not  be  displeased 
to  find  the  following  anecdotes,  which  are  of  a  nature 
too  extraordinary  to  be  omitted.    Metcalf  had  learned 
to  walk  and  ride  very  readily  through  all  the  streets  of 
York,  and  being  once  in  that  city,  as  he  was  passing 
the  George  Inn   the  landlord  called  to  him,  and  in- 
formed him  that  a  gentleman  in  the  house  wanted  a 
guide  to  Harrowgate,  adding,  "  I  know  you  can  do 
as  well  as  any  one."    To  this  proposal  Metcalf  agreed, 
upon  condition  that  his  blindness  should  be  kept  se- 
cret from  the  gentleman,   who  might  otherwise  be 
afraid  to  trust  him.     The  stranger  was  soon  ready, 
and  they  set  off  on  horse-back,  Metcalf  taking  the 
lead.     When  they  came  to  Allerton,  the  gentleman 
inquired  whose  large  house  that  was  on  the  right,  to 
which  Metcalf  replied  without  hesitation.     A  little 
further,  the  road  is  crossed  by  that  from  Wetherby  to 
Boroughbridge,  and  runs  along  by  the  lofty  brick 
wall  of  Allerton  Park.     A  road  led  out  of  the  Park, 
opposite  to  a  gate  upon  the   Knaresborough  road, 
which  Metcalf  was   afraid  of  missing  ;  but  perceiving 
the  current  of  wind  that  came  through  the  Park  gate, 
he  readily  turned  his  horse  towards  the  opposite  one. 
Here  he  found  some  difficulty  in  opening  the  gate,  in 
consequence,  as  he  imagined,  of  some  alteration  that 
had  been  made  in  the  hanging  of  it,  he  having  not 
been  that  way  for  several  mouths  ;  therefore,  backing 
his  horse,  he  exclaimed,  "Confound  thee,  thou  always 
goest  to  the  heel  of  the  gate  instead  of  the  head."  The 
gentleman  then  observed,  his  horse  seemed   rather 
awkward,  but  that  his  own  mare  was  good  at  coming 

OF    METCALF.  103 

up  to  a  gate ;  on  which  Metcalf  cheerfully  permitted 
him  to  perform  that  office.  Passing  through  Knares- 
borough  they  entered  the  forest,  which  was  then  unin- 
closed,  nor  was  there  yet  any  turnpike  road  upon  it. 
Having  proceeded  a  little  way,  the  gentleman  observed 
a  light,  and  asked  what  it  was.  Metcalf  took  it  for 
granted  that  his  companion  had  seen  what  is  called  a 
Will  o'  the  Wisp,  which  frequently  appears  there  in  a 
low  and  swampy  spot,  near  the  road ;  but  fearful  of 
betraying  himself,  he  did  not  ask  in  what  direction 
the  light  lay.  To  divert  his  attention  from  this  ob- 
ject, he  asked  him  if  he  did  not  see  two  lights,  one  to 
the  right,  and  one  to  the  left ;  the  stranger  replied, 
that  he  saw  but  one,  to  the  right,  "Well  then,  sir," 
says  Metcalf,  ''that  is  Harrowgate."  Having  arrived 
at  their  journey's  end,  they  stopped  at  the  house  now 
called  the  Granby,  where  Metcalf,  being  well  ac- 
quainted with  the  place,  led  both  the  horses  into  the 
stable  ;  he  then  went  into  the  house,  where  he  found 
his  fellow  traveller  comfortably  seated  over  a  tankard 
oi'  negus,  in  which  he  pledged  his  guide.  Metcalf 
took  it  very  readily  from  him  the  first  time,  but  the 
second  he  was  rather  wide  of  his  mark.  He  soon 
after  withdrew,  leaving  the  landlord  to  explain  what  his 
companion  was  yet  ignorant  of.  The  latter  hinted  to 
the  landlord  his  suspicion,  that  his  guide  must  have 
taken  a  great  quantity  of  spirits  since  their  arrival ; 
upon  which  the  landlord  inquiring  his  reason  for  en- 
tertaining such  an  opinion,  "I  judged  so,"  replied  the 
traveller,  "from  the  appearance  of  his  eyes."  "Eyes! 
Bless  you,  sir,  do  you  not  know  that  he  is  blind  ?" 
"  What  do  you  mean  by  that?"  "I  mean,  sir,  that  he 

104  THE    LIFE 

cannot  see."  "Blind"!  he  exclaimed  with  astonish- 
ment; "Yes  sir,  as  blind  as  a  stone."  The  stranger  de- 
sired Metcalf  to  be  called,  and  upon  his  confirming  the 
landlord's  account,  *'Had  I  known  that,''  said  he,  "I 
would  not  have  ventured  with  you  for  a  hundred 
pounds."  *'  And  I,  sir,"  said  Metcalf,  "  would  not  have 
lost  my  way  for  a  thousand."  The  services  of  the 
evening  were  rewarded  with  two  guineas,  and  a 
plentiful  entertainment  the  next  day  by  the  gentle- 
man, who  considered  this  circumstance  as  the  most 
extraordinary  he  had  ever  met  with. 

Metcalf  happened  once  to  be  at  Scriven,  at  the 
house  of  one  Green,  an  inn-keeper,  where  two  per- 
sons had  a  dispute  concerning  some  sheep,  which  one 
of  them  had  put  into  the  pen  fold.  The  owner  of  the 
sheep,  a  townsman  of  INIetcalf's,  appeared  to  be  ill- 
treated  by  the  other  party,  who  wished  to  lake  an 
unfair  advantage  ;  Metcalf  perceiving  that  they  were 
not  likely  to  agree  about  the  damages,  departed.  It 
being  about  midnight,  he  resolved  to  perform  a  good 
turn  for  his  friend,  before  he  went  home.  The  penfold 
being  walled  round,  he  climbed  over,  and  laying  hold 
of  the  sheep  one  after  the  other,  he  threw  them  over 
the  wall;  the  difficulty  of  the  undertaking  increased, 
however,  as  the  number  diminished,  because  they  were 
not  so  easily  caught ;  but  not  deterred  by  that  cir- 
cumstance, he  completed  the  business.  On  the  re- 
turn of  day,  when  the  penfold  was  found  untenanted, 
though  the  door  was  fast  locked,  a  considerable  degree 
of  sui-prise  was  excited,  and  various  conjectures  were 
formed  relative  to  the  rogues  who  had  liberated  the 
sheep;  but  Metcalf  passed  unsuspected,  and  enjoyed 
the  joke  in  silence. 

OF    METCALF.  105 

Passing  once  through  HaHfax,  he  stopped  at  an 
inn  called  the  Broad  Stone.  The  landlord's  son  and 
some  others  who  frequented  Harrowgate,  having 
heard  of  INIetcalfs  exploits,  expressed  a  wish  to  play 
at  cards  with  him,  to  which  he  consented,  and  a 
pack  was  sent  for,  which  he  requested  permission  to 
examine.  They  then  began,  for  as  the  landlord  was 
his  friend,  he  could  rely  on  him  to  prevent  any  de- 
ception. And  Metcalf  beat  four  of  them  in  turn, 
playing  for  liquor  only ;  not  satisfied  with  this,  some 
of  the  company  proposed  playing  for  money,  and  a^ 
shilling  whist,  Metcalf  won  fifteen  shillings.  The 
losing  party  then  proposed  playing  double  or  quit, 
but  he  declined  playing  more  than  half  guinea  points; 
at  length,  however,  yielding  to  their  importunity,  he 
engaged  for  guineas,  and  being  favoured  by  fortune 
he  won  ten,  and  a  shilling  for  liquor  each  game. 
The  loser  taking  up  the  cards  went  out,  and  soon 
returned  with  eight  guineas  more,  which  speedily  fol- 
lowed the  other  ten. 

Among  the  numerous  roads  which  Metcalf  con- 
tracted to  make,  was  part  of  the  Manchester  road, 
from  Blackmoor  to  Standish  Foot.  As  it  was  not 
marked  out,  the  surveyor,  contrary  to  expectation, 
took  it  over  deep  marshes,  out  of  which  it  was  the 
opinion  of  the  trustees,  that  it  would  be  necessary  to 
dig  the  earth  till  they  came  to  a  solid  bottom.  This 
plan  appeared  to  Metcalf  extremely  tedious  and  ex- 
pensive, and  liable  to  other  disadvantages ;  he  there- 
fore argued  the  point  privately  with  the  surveyor,  and 
several  other  gentlemen,  but  they  were  all  immove- 
able in  their  former  opinion.     Metcalf  attended  their 

106  THE    LIFE 

next  meeting,  and  addressed  them  in  the  following 
manner ;  *'  Gentlemen,  I  propose  to  make  the  road 
over  the  marshes  after  my  own  plan,  and  if  it  does 
not  answer,  I  will  be  at  the  expense  of  making  it  over 
again  after  yours."  To  this  proposal  they  assented. 
Having  engaged  to  complete  nine  miles  in  ten  months, 
he  began  in  six  different  parts,  nearly  four  hundred 
men  being  employed.  One  of  the  places  was  peat, 
and  Standish  Common  was  a  deep  bog,  over  which 
it  was  thought  impracticable  to  make  any  road.  Here 
he  cast  it  fourteen  yards  wide,  raising  it  in  a  circular 
form,  and  the  water,  which  in  many  places  ran  across 
the  road,  was  carried  off  by  drains  ;  but  he  found  the 
greatest  difficulty  in  conveying  stones  to  the  spot,  on 
account  of  the  softness  of  the  ground.  Those  who 
passed  that  way  to  Huddersfield  market,  \vere  not 
sparing  in  their  censure  of  their  undertaking,  and 
even  doubted  whether  it  would  ever  be  completed. 
Having,  however,  levelled  the  piece  to  the  end,  he 
ordered  his  men  to  collect  heather  or  ling,  and  bind 
it  in  round  bundles  which  they  could  span  with  their 
hands ;  these  bundles  were  placed  close  together,  and 
another  row  laid  over  them,  upon  which  they  were 
well  pressed  down,  and  covered  with  stone  and  gravel. 
This  piece,  being  about  half  a  mile  in  length,  when 
completed  was  so  remarkably  fine,  that  any  person 
might  have  gone  over  it  in  winter  unshod,  without  be- 
ing wet;  and,  though  other  parts  of  the  road  soon 
wanted  repairing,  this  needed  none  for  twelve  years. 
Dr.  Bew,  speaking  of  Metcalf,  says;  '"With  the  as- 
sistance only  of  a  long  staff,  I  have  several  times  met 
this  man  traversing  the  road,  ascending  precipices. 


exploring  valleys,  and  investigating  their  extent,  form, 
and  situation,  so  as  to  execute  his  designs  in  the  best 
manner.  The  plans  which  he  designs,  and  the  esti- 
mates he  makes,  are  done  in  a  method  peculiar  to 
himself,  and  of  which  he  cannot  well  convey  the 
meaning  to  others.  His  abilities  in  this  respect  are, 
nevertheless,  so  great,  that  he  finds  constant  employ- 
ment. Most  of  the  roads  over  the  Peak,  in  Derby- 
shire, have  been  altered  by  his  directions,  particularly 
those  in  the  vicinity  of  Buxton;  and  he  is  at  this 
time  constructing  a  new  one  betwixt  Wiluislow  and 
Congleton,  with  a  view  to  open  a  communication  to 
the  great  London  road,  without  being  obliged  to  pass 
over  the  mountains." 

These  particulars,  concerning  this  extraordinary 
man  and  useful  member  of  society,  are  taken  from  a 
narrative  published  by  himself,  after  his  return  to  his 
native  county.  He  there,  with  a  daughter  and  a  son- 
in-law  who  kept  his  house,  fixed  his  residence  at 
Spofforth,  near  Wetherby,  happy  in  the  enjoyment 
of  the  fruits  of  his  industry,  when  his  advanced  age 
prevented  him  from  engaging  in  the  more  active  oc- 
cupations to  which  he  had  been  accustomed.  He  died 
in  the  year  1802. 


The  Life  of  Metcalf,  Liverpool  edition,  1802 — Eccentric 
Mirror,  voL  the  2nd — Transactions  of  the  Manchester  Philo- 
sophical Soci»t>', 

108  THE    LIFE 





"  Huss,  mild  and  firm,  next  dares  the  t3rrant's  fire  ; 
And  sweet  tongu'd  Jerome,  skilfulto  persuade; 
And  Zisca  whom  fair  liberty  inspires, 
Blind  Chieftain,  waves  around  his  burnish'd  blade ; 
Unwearied  pastor,  with  unbating  zeal." 

This  distinguished  patriot  was  a  native  of  Bohe- 
mia. His  real  name  was  John  de  Trocznow  ;  but  in 
the  course  of  his  military  services  he  lost  his  left  eye, 
from  which  circumstance  he  was  called  Zisca,  that 
word,  in  the  Bohemian  language,  signifying  one- 
eyed.  He  served  for  some  time  in  the  Danish 
and  Polish  armies,  but  on  the  conclusion  of  the 
war,  he  returned  to  his  native  country.  Bohe- 
mia was,  at  that  time,  greatly  agitated  by  the  cru- 
sade which  the  Pope  was  then  carrying  on,  against 
what  were  called  the  new  opinions;  the  council  of 
Constance  which  met  in  the  year  1414,  for  the  pur- 

OF   ZISCA.  109 

pose  of  rooting  heresy  out  of  the  church,  cited  John 
Huss  and  Jerome  of  Prague  hefore  them  ;  who  were 
both  found  guilty  of  heresy,  and  were  burned  at  the 
stake.  This  cruel  and  unjust  sentence  filled  the 
public  mind  with  horror  and  indignation.  Their 
blameless  lives,  their  peaceful  spirit,  and  the  opinions 
for  which  they  suffered,  endeared  them  to  their  coun- 
trymen so  much,  that  July  5th,  the  day  of  their  mar- 
tyrdom, was  observed  throughout  Bohemia  as  a  day 
of  solemn  fasting  and  prayer.  The  persecution  against 
their  followers  still  continued,  however,  with  great 
severity;  and  the  dungeon,  the  gibbet,  and  the  stake 
w^ere  daily  employed. 

The  people,  at  last,  became  exceedingly  exaspe- 
rated against  the  Pope  and  the  Emperor,  on  account 
of  their  cruelties ;  they  were  obliged  to  take  up  arms 
in  defence  of  their  lives,  and  chose  Zisca  as  their 
general,  who  soon  found  himself  at  the  head  of  forty 
thousand  patriots.  He  had  laid  siege  to  the  town  of 
Ruby,  which  he  had  almost  reduced  to  extremities, 
when,  as  he  was  viewing  a  part  of  the  works  where  he 
intended  an  assault,  an  arrow,  shot  from  the  wall, 
struck  him  in  his  remaining  eye.  The  wound  being 
thought  dangerous,  the  surgeons  of  the  army  proposed 
his  being  earned  to  Prague,  where  he  might  have  the 
best  advice  ;  in  reality,  however,  they  were  afraid  of 
being  cut  to  pieces  by  the  troops,  if  he  should  die 
under  their  hands.  When  bis  removal  to  the  capital 
was  resolved  on,  it  was  difficult  to  check  the  contest 
among  the  soldiers,  who  strove  for  the  honour  of  carry- 
ing their  wounded  general.  At  Prague  the  arrow  was 
extracted,  which,  being  barbed,  tore  out  the  eye  wiili 


110  THE    LIFE 

it,  and  it  was  feared  the  fever  which  succeeded  might 
prove  fatal ;  his  life,  however,  though  with  difEculty, 
was  saved.     By  this  severe  stroke  he  was  consigned 
t»  total  darkness  for  the  remainder  of  his  life  ;  but, 
like  Sampson  of  old,  he  was  more   dreaded  by  the 
enemies  of  his  country  after  he  became  blind^  than  he 
had  been  before  that  accident  occurred.      His  friends 
were  surprised  to  hear  him  talk,  after  his  recovery^ 
of  setting  out  for  the  army,  and  did  what  was  in  their 
power  to  dissuade  him  from  it,  but  he  continued  re- 
solute; "Iliave  yet,"  said  he,  ''my  blood  to  shed 
for  the  liberties  of  Bohemia.     She  is  enslaved ;  her 
sons  are  deprived  of  their  natural  rights,  and  are  the 
victims  of  a  system  of  spiritual  tyranny,  as  degrading 
to  the  character  of  man  as  it  is  destructive  of  every 
moral  principle ;  therefore,  Bohemia  must  and  shall 
be  free."     Ziscawas  so  beloved  by  the  army,  that  the 
soldiers  threatened  to  lay  down   their  arms,  unless 
their  general  were  restored. 

In  the  mean  time,  the  emperor  Sigismond  had  been 
making  preparations  for  war  during  the  summer,  at 
Nuremburg.  Here  he  assembled  the  states  of  the 
empire  in  full  convention,  opened  to  them  his  em- 
barrassed circumstances,  and  intreated  them,  for  the 
sake  of  their  sovereign,  for  the  honour  of  the  empire, 
and  in  the  cause  of  their  religion,  to  put  themselves 
in  arms.  His  harangue  had  its  effect ;  proper  mea- 
sures were  concerted,  and  the  assembly  broke  up, 
with  an  unanimous  resolution  to  make  this  audacious 
rebftl  feel  the  full  weight  of  the  empire  ;  and  that  the 
blow  might  fall  more  unexpectedly,  it  was  resolved 
to  defer  it  till  the  end  of  the  year,  when  it  was  hoped 




OF    ZISCA.  Ill 

that  Zisca  might  more  easily  be  surprised,  as  great 
part  of  his  troops  left  him  in  the  winter  and  retm'ned 
again  in  spring. 

The  campaign,  as  that  chief  imagined,  was  now 
over,  when  he  was  suddenly  alarmed  with  the  report 
of  these  vast  preparations,  and  soon  after,  with  the 
march  of  two  powerful  armies  against  him ;  one  of 
which  was  composed  of  confederate  Geraians,  under 
the  Marquis  of  Braiidenburgh,  the  Archbishop  of 
Mentz,  the  Count  Palatine  of  the  Rhine,  and  other 
princes  of  the  empire ;  the  other  of  Hungarians  and 
Silesians,  under  the  emperor  himself.  The  former 
was  to  invade  Bohemia  on  the  west,  the  latter  on  the 
east ;  they  were  to  meet  in  the  centre,  and,  as  they 
affected  to  give  out,  crush  this  handful  of  vexatious 
sectaries  between  them.  At  the  head  of  such  a  force 
the  emperor  was  very  sanguine ;  but  they  who  are 
acquainted  with  the  nature  of  armies  intended  to 
march  in  concert,  know  the  difficulty  of  making  such 
unwieldy  bodies  observe  those  exact  laws  of  motion, 
which  are  traced  out  by  prudent  generals  in  councils 
of  war ;  some  unforeseen  events  generally  create 
unavoidable  difficulty,  and  so  it  happened  on  the 
present  occasion.  Sigismond,  disappointed  in  a  con- 
tract for  forage,  was  obhged  to  defer  his  march  ;  he 
was  likewise  retarded  by  the  Austrian  and  Hunga- 
rian nobility,  who  had  entered  as  volunteers  into  his 
service,  and,  being  suddenly  called  upon,  had  not 
their  equipages  and  dependants  in  perfect  readiness 
for  the  field.  The  confederate  princes  had  now  begun 
their  march,  and  were  already  advanced  a  consid- 
erable way  into  Bohemia,  before  they  heard  of  the 

112  THE    LIFE 

emperor's  disappointment.  Sigismond  gave  them 
hopes  that  he  would  presently  join  them,  and  advised 
them  to  form  the  siege  of  Soisin;  accordingly  they 
intrenched  themselves,  and  began  an  attack,  for  which 
they  were  not  in  the  best  manner  provided,  against 
what  was  esteemed  one  of  the  strongest  fortresses  in 
Bohemia.  The  besieged  laughed  at  their  vain  efforts, 
and  maintained  only  their  usual  guard;  while  wet 
trenches,  the  want  of  provision,  the  severities  of  an  in- 
clement winter,  and  above  all,  the  emperor's  delay,  in* 
troduced  mutiny  into  the  tents  of  the  besiegers,  and 
dissension  into  their  councils.  In  this  situation  they 
were  ready  to  catch  any  alarm,  when  Zisca  approached 
with  his  army.  The  very  sight  of  his  banners  floating 
at  a  distance  was  sufficient;  they  struck  their  tent«, 
and  retreated  with  precipitation,  bnrning  the  country 
as  they  fled,  and  cursing  the  emperor's  breach  of  faith. 
About  the  end  of  December,  a  full  month  after  the 
appointed  time,  the  emperor  began  his  march,  and  as 
he  entered  Bohemia,  he  received  the  account  of  the  re- 
treat of  the  confederates.  He  determined,  however,  t# 
proceed ;  he  was  at  the  head  of  an  army,  the  flower  of 
which  was  15,000  Hungarian  horse,  esteemed  at  that 
time  the  best  cavalry  in  Europe,  and  led  by  a  Flor- 
entine officer  of  great  experience ;  the  infantry,  which 
consisted  of  25,000  men,  was  provided,  as  well  as  the 
cavalry,  with  every  thing  proper  for  a  winter  cam- 
paign. This  army  spread  teiTor  throughout  all  the 
east  of  Bohemia ;  wherever  Sigismond  marched,  the 
magistrates  laid  their  keys  at  his  feet,  and  were  treated 
with  severity  or  favour,  according  as  they  were  well 
or  ill  affected  towards  his  cause. 

OF    ZISCA.  113 

His  career,  however,  was  presently  checked.  Zisca, 
who  had  been  pursuing  the  Germans  in  the  west, 
approached,  with  speedy  march,  and  threw  a  damp 
upon  him  in  the  midst  of  his  success;  he  resolved,  how- 
ever, to  try  his  fortune,  once  more,  with  that  invincible 
chief,  and  chose  his  ground  as  well  as  he  was  able. 
No  general  paid  less  regard  to  the  circumstances  of 
time  and  place  than  Zisca ;  he  seldom  desired  more 
than  to  come  up  to  his  adversary,  and  the  enthusiastic 
fury  of  his  soldiers  supplied  the  rest.  There  was  not 
a  man  in  his  army,  who  did  not  meet  the  enemy  with 
that  same  invincible  spirit  with  which  the  martyr 
meets  death ;  who  did  not  press  to  be  foremost  in 
that  glorious  band  of  heroes,  whom  the  Almighty 
should  destine  to  the  noble  act  of  dying  for  their  re- 
ligion. Such  were  the  troops  which  Sigismond  had 
now  to  encounter. 

On  the  thirteenth  of  January,  1422,  the  two  armies 
met  on  a  spacious  plain  near  Kamnitz.  Zisca  ap- 
peared in  the  centre  of  his  front  line,  guarded,  or 
rather  conducted,  by  a  horseman  on  each  side,  armed 
with  a  pole  axe.  His  troops,  having  sung  a  hymn, 
with  determined  coolness  drew  their  swords,  and 
waited  for  the  signal.  Zisca  stood  not  long  in  view 
of  the  enemy,  and  when  his  officers  had  informed 
him  that  the  ranks  were  well  closed,  he  waved  his 
sabre  round  his  head,  which  was  the  signal  of  battle. 
Historians  speak  of  the  onset  of  Zisca's  troops,  as  a 
shock  beyond  credibility ;  and  it  appears  to  have  been 
such  on  this  occasion.  The  imperial  infantry  hardly 
made  a  stand,  and  in  the  space  of  a  few  minutes,  they 
were  disordered  beyond  possibility  of  being  rallied. 

114  THE    LIFE 

The  cavalry  made  a  feeble  effort,  but  seeing  them- 
selves unsupported,  they  wheeled  round  and  fled  upon 
the  spur.  Thus  was  the  extent  of  the  plain,  as  far  as 
the  eye  could  reach  suddenly  overspread  with  disorder, 
the  pursuers  and  the  pursued  mingling  together,  in  one 
indistinct  mass  of  waving  confusion ;  here  and  there 
might  be  seen  a  few  parties  endeavouring  to  unite, 
but  they  were  broken  as  soon  as  formed.  The  routed 
army  fled  towards  the  confines  of  Moravia ;  the 
patriots,  without  intermission,  galling  their  rear. 
The  river  Igla,  which  was  then  frozen,  opposed 
their  flight,  and  here  new  disasters  befel  them.  The 
bridge  being  immediately  choked,  and  the  enemy 
pressing  furiously  on,  many  of  the  infantry,  and  the 
whole  body  of  cavalry,  attempted  the  river;  the  ice 
gave  way,  and  not  fewer  than  two  thousand  were 
swallowed  up  in  the  water.  Here  Zisca  sheathed  his 
sword,  and  returned  in  triumph  to  Tabore,  laden  with 
all  the  trophies  which  the  most  complete  victory  could 

The  battle  of  Kamnitz  having  put  Zisca  in  peace- 
able possession  of  the  whole  kingdom  of  Bohemia,  he 
had  now  leisure  to  pay  a  little  more  attention  to  his 
designed  establishment  of  a  church.  He  began  to 
abolish  in  all  places  the  ceremonies  of  the  Romish 
worship;  he  erased  the  Pope's  name  from  all  public 
inslruments,  and  denied  his  supremacy.  "Merit 
alone,"  he  said,  "  slioiikl  give  distinction  among  the 
clergy  of  Bohemia;  and  they  should  gain  the  reverence 
of  the  people  by  the  sanctity  of  their  lives,  not  by 
their  luxurious  manner  of  living."  From  these  things 
we  may  judge  liow  much  farther  Huss  would,  in  ull 

OF    ZISCA.  115 

probability,  have  carried  reformation,  if  he  had  had 
it  in  his  power ;  for  we  may  consider  Zisca  as  doing- 
nothing  but  what  was  consonant  with  his  express  doc- 
trine, or  might  by  fair  inference  be  deduced  from 
it.  We  have  no  reason  to  suppose  tliis  military  i"e- 
former  had  any  bigotry  in  his  temperament,  as  he 
seems  not  to  have  shewn  an  inclination  to  force  the 
consciences  of  differing  sects,  but  to  have  left  men  at 
liberty  to  like  or  dislike,  to  unite  with  him,  or  leave 
him,  as  they  thought  best ;  nor  was  he  by  any  means 
arbitrary  in  his  impositions,  but  consulted  his  friends, 
and  fixed  on  nothing  but  what  met  with  their  gene- 
ral concurrence. 

At  this  time  Zisca  was  in  full  credit  with  his  party, 
and  was  earnestly  requested  to  assume  the  crown  of  Bo- 
hemia for  himself,  as  a  reward  for  the  eminent  services 
he  had  rendered  his  country.  No  one  in  the  kingdom, 
they  assured  him,  had  the  power,  if  he  had  the  in- 
clination, to  make  the  least  opposition ;  as  for  the 
emperor,  they  hoped  he  would  soon  be  induced  to 
drop  his  claim.  But  Zisca,  whom  even  his  enemies 
do  not  tax  with  avarice  or  ambition,  steadily  refused; 
"while  you  find  me  of  service  to  your  designs,"  said 
the  disinterested  chief,  "you  may  freely  command 
both  my  counsels  and  my  sword,  but  I  will  never  ac- 
cept any  established  authority  ;  on  the  contrary,  my 
most  earnest  advice  to  you  is,  when  the  perverseness 
of  your  enemies  allows  you  peace,  to  trust  yourselves 
no  longer  in  the  hands  of  kings,  but  to  form  your- 
selves into  a  republic,  which  species  of  government 
only,  can  secure  your  liberties." 

In  the  mean  while,   Sigismond  had   made   great 

116  THE  LIFE 

preparations  for  what  proved  to  be  his  final  effort, 
and  intended  to  enter  Bohemia  with  two  separate 
armies.  With  this  view,  he  placed  the  Marquis 
Misnia  at  the  head  of  a  considerable  body  of  Saxons, 
who  were  to  penetrate  by  the  way  of  Upper  Saxony; 
while  he  himself,  at  the  head  of  another  army,  should 
enter  Moravia,  on  the  side  of  Hungary. 

Zisca  also  made  the  necessary  preparation  for  open- 
ing the  campaign,  and  sent  Procop,  an  excellent 
young  officer  in  whom  he  had  entire  confidence,  to 
command  in  Moravia,  to  whose  management  he  wholly 
intrusted  the  military  affairs  of  that  country,  recom- 
mending to  him  particularly  a  cautious  behaviour,  and 
measures  merely  defensive.  Zisca  was  in  little  fear 
about  Moravia,  hoping  that  Procop  would  be  able  to 
keep  the  Emperor  employed,  till  he  himself  should  re- 
turn from  the  frontiers  of  Saxony,  whither  he  march- 
ed with  all  his  forces,  upon  the  first  notice  of  the 
enemy's  movements.  The  Marquis,  however,  had  not 
yet  taken  the  field;  Zisca,  to  strike  terror  into  his 
troops,  ravaged  his  borders,  and,  in  the  face  of  his 
army,  boldly  sat  down  before  Ausig,  a  strong  town 
situated  upon  the  Elbe,  near  where  that  river  leaves 
Bohemia.  This  place  had  always  shewn  a  particular 
attachment  to  the  emperor,  and  was  recommended  by 
him  in  strong  terms,  to  the  protection  of  the  Marquis ; 
it  was  a  sensible  mortification,  therefore,  to  that 
general,  to  see  an  enemy  already  at  the  gates,  and  he 
determined  to  risk  all,  rather  than  leave  it  a  prey. 
Zisca,  who  carried  on  the  works  with  his  usual  vigour, 
had  brought  the  siege  to  its  last  stage,  when  the 
Marquis  appeared  at  the  head  of  a  great  army,  and 

OF    ZISCA.  117 

offered  him  battle ;  his  maxim  being  never  to  decline 
fighting,  he  accepted  the  challenge,  though  he  had 
many  difficulties  to  encounter.  The  Marquis  had  a 
superior  army,  and  Zisca  was  obliged  to  thin  his 
troops,  by  leaving  a  large  detachment  to  observe  the 
town;  the  Saxons  were  advantageously  posted,  having 
taken  possession  of  a  rising  ground,  which  secured 
their  flanks,  while  a  strong  wind  blew  in  the  face  of 
the  Reformers,  which  greatly  weakened  the  flight  of 
their  arrotvs,  adding  new  force  to  those  of  the  enemy. 
Zisca,  however,  had  little  confidence  in  missive  wea- 
pons; his  whole  line,  in  their  accustomed  manner, 
with  pole-axes  and  sabres,  made  an  impetuous  attack 
upon  the  enemy,  but  the  Saxons  receiving  them  in 
good  order,  stood  firm,  and  gave  them  a  very  severe 
check.  This  was  a  reception  wholly  unknown  to  the 
RefoiTuers,  who  had  ever  been  used  to  bear  down  all 
before  them  ;  in  these  new  circumstances  they  were  at 
a  loss  how  to  act,  and  retreated  some  paces,  as  if  as- 
tonished at  the  novelty  of  their  position.  This  critical 
moment  the  Saxons  should  have  seized,  while  the 
blast,  yet  fluttering  in  the  sail,  seemed  to  hesitate  on 
which  side  to  give  the  swell.  Had  they  moved  for- 
ward at  this  instant,  it  is  probable  the  patriots  would 
never  have  recovered  from  their  surprise  ;  but  instead 
of  a  general  charge,  they  stood  motionless,  looking  up- 
on the  enemy,  as  if  they  had  done  enough  in  not  suffer- 
ing themselves  to  be  beaten.  Zisca,  as  if  almost  in- 
spired, had  a  complete  idea  of  the  state  of  affairs,  and 
being  conducted  to  the  front  line,  which  stood  yet 
unbroken,  he  cried  out  as  he  rode  along,  "I  thank  you, 
my  fellow  soldiers,  for  all  your  past  services ;  if  you 

118  THE    LIFE 

have  done  your  utmost,  let  us  retire."  This  noble 
rebuke  stung  them  to  the  soul ;  every  veteran  gnashed 
his  teeth  with  indignation,  grasped  his  sword,  and 
pressed  forward,  closing  hand  to  hand  with  the  enemy, 
in  the  true  tenii)er  of  determined  courage.  The 
combat,  thus  renewed,  soon  became  unequal;  for 
some  time  the  Saxons  still  maintained  a  feeble  fight, 
but  four  of  the  principal  officers,  endeavouring  to 
restore  the  battle,  were  cut  to  pieces  at  the  head  of 
their  dismayed  battalions,  and  the  whole  army  soon 
after  gave  way  in  every  part,  and  retreated.  A  rout 
and  massacre  succeeded ;  the  carnage  was  terrible, 
not  fewer  than  nine  thousand  Saxons  being  left  dead 
upon  the  field. 

From  this  scene  of  blood  he  recalled  his  troops  to 
new  fields  of  glory ;  "  we  must  sleep  to  night,"  cried 
he,  "within  the  walls  of  Ausig."  Thither  the  tri- 
umphant army  carried  the  news  of  their  victory. 
Zisca  would  grant  no  conditions ;  the  governor  was 
allowed  half  an  hour  to  deliberate  whether  he  would 
surrender  at  discretion,  or  take  the  consequence ;  he 
chose  the  safer  measure,  and  the  Refonners  were 
quietly  quartered  in  Ausig  before  the  close  of  the 
evening.  The  next  day  Zisca  ordered  the  town  to  be 
dismantled,  that  it  might  no  longer  be  a  receptacle  for 
his  enemies;  he  broke  down  likewise  the  stately  bridge 
over  the  Elbe,  to  cut  off  as  much  as  possible  all  com- 
munication with  Saxony.  These  two  great  events 
consecrated  the  22nd  of  April,  for  many  years,  in 

Having  thus  settled  every  thing  in  the  east  of 
Bohemia,  where  he  had  been  kept  longer  than  he 
expected,  and  having  freed  that  country  from  even 

OF    ZISCA.  1  19 

the  apprebensiou  of  clanger,  he  returned  with  his 
victorious  army  to  the  assistance  of  Procop.  The 
news  of  Sigismond's  retreat  met  Zisca  near  Prague. 
As  the  troops,  having  made  forced  marches  from  Au- 
sig,  had  been  harrassed  with  intolerable  fatigue,  he 
thought  it  proper  to  give  them  a  few  days'  rest,  and 
e'ncamped  therefore  witliin  three  leagues  of  Prague 
Sisrisraond  was  now  reduced  to  the  srreatest  extremi- 
ties;  the  battle  of  Ausig  had  greatly  shaken  that  con- 
stancy which  had  thus  far  supported  him ;  six  times, 
in  three  campaigns,  he  had  been  vanquished  in  the 
open  field,  his  towns  had  been  ravished  from  him, 
and  his  provinces  laid  waste.  He  acknowledged  the 
superior  talents  of  his  adversary,  and  was  quelled  bv 
that  noble  and  uuconquered  spirit  which  animates  the 
cause  of  liberty.  Every  ray  of  hope  being  now  ex- 
cluded, he  submitted  to  his  hard  fate,  and  resolving 
to  procure  peace  for  his  bleeding  country  on  any 
terms,  sent  deputies  to  Zisca,  requesting  him  to 
sheaihe  his  sword  and  name  his  conditions;  offering 
him  at  the  same  time,  for  himself,  what  might  have 
satisfied  the  most  grasping  ambition.  Zisca  was 
equally  desirous  of  reconciliation,  as  he  had  taken  up 
iirms  only  with  a  view  to  obtain  peace,  and  was  heart- 
ily glad  of  an  occasion  to  lay  them  down :  he  therefore 
returned  a  message  to  the  Emperor,  full  of  respectful 
language,  though  at  the  same  time  breathing  that 
spirit  which  became  a  chief  in  the  cause  of  liberty. 
After  a  few  couriers  had  passed  between  them,  a 
place  of  congress  was  appointed,  and  Zisca  set 
out  to  meet  the  Emperor,  attended  by  the  prin- 
cipal officers  of  his  army.  It  gave  Europe  a 
subject  for  various  conjecture,  when  this  great  man. 


120  THE    LIFE 

whom  one  unfortunate  battle  would  have  reduced  to 
the  condition  of  rebel,  was  seen  passing  through  the 
midst  of  Bohemia,  to  treat  with  his  sovereign,  upon 
equal  terms. 

But  Zisca  lived  not  to  put  a  finishing  hand  to  this 
treaty.  His  affairs  obliged  him  to  take  his  route 
through  a  part  of  the  country,  in  which  the  plague  at 
that  time  was  raging ;  at  the  castle  of  Piiscow,  where 
he  had  engaged  to  hold  an  assembly  of  the  states  of 
that  district,  the  fatal  contagion  seized  him ,  and  put 
an  end  to  his  life,  on  the  sixth  of  October,  1424,  at  a 
time  when  all  his  labours  were  ended,  and  his  great 
purposes  almost  completed.  Such  was  the  course  of 
Providence,  which  permitted  him  to  enjoy  but  for  a 
short  time,  those  liberties,  and  that  tranquillity,  which 
his  virtues  had  so  nobly  purchased.  The  remains  of 
this  great  man  were  deposited  in  the  church  at  Craslow, 
in  Bohemia,  where  a  monument  was  erected  to  his 
memory,  with  an  inscription  to  this  purport ;  "  Here 
lies  John  Zisca,  who,  having  defended  his  country 
against  the  encroachments  of  Papal  t3'ranny,  rests  in 
this  hallowed  place,  in  despite  of  the  Pope." 

The  capacity  of  Zisca  was  vast ;  his  plans  of  action 
were  extensive ;  and  the  vigour  of  his  mind,  in  execu- 
ting those  plans,  astonishing.  Difficulties  with  him, 
were  motives  that  roused  up  latent  powers,  proportioned 
to  the  emergency,  and  even  blindness  could  not  check 
the  ardour  of  his  soul.  His  military  abilities  were 
equal  to  what  any  age  has  produced,  and  they  are  in- 
deed acknowledged  to  be  so  by  all  historians.  He  was 
also  equally  to  be  admired  as  a  politician ;  if  the 
great  man  was  seen  in  the  conduct  and  courage  which 
he    discovered    in    the    field,    it    was    equally    seen 

OF    ZISCA.  121 

in  governing  a  land  of  anarchy,  by  his  own  native 
authority,  and  in  drawing  to  one  point,  the  force  of 
a  divided  nation.  Nor  was  the  end  which  he  proposed 
unworthy  of  his  gi'eat  actions ;  utterly  devoid  both  of 
ambition  and  avarice,  he  had  no  aim  but  to  establish, 
upon  the  ruins  of  ecclesiastical  tyranny,  the  civil  and 
rehgious  liberties  of  his  country. 


Gilpin's  Lives  of  the  Reformers,  vol,  1st. — Encyclopaedia 

122  THE    LIFE 


M.    HUBER, 


"  Of  all  the  race  of  animals,  alone 

The  bees  have  common  cities  of  their  own  ; 

And,  common  sons,  beneath  one  law  they  lire, 

And  with  one  common  stock  their  traffic  drive. 

Each  has  a  certain  home,  a  seT»ral  stall  ; 

All  is  the  state's,  the  state  provides  for  all. 

Mindful  of  coming  cold,  they  share  the  pain. 

And  hoard  for  winter's  use  the  summer's  gain. 

Some  o'er  the  public  magazines  preside, 

And  some  are  sent  new  forage  to  provide. 

Their  toil  is  common ;  common  is  their  sleep ; 

They  shake  their  wings  when  morn  begins  to  peep, 

Rush  through  the  citj'  gates  without  delay. 

Nor  ends  their  work  but  with  declining  day. 

Then  having  spent  the  last  remains  of  light, 

They  give  their  bodies  due  repose  at  night  ; 

When  hollow  murmurs  of  their  ev'ning  bells 

Dismiss  the  sleepy  swains,  and  toll  them  to  their  cells." 

Of  all  the  deprivations  to  ^\hicli  man  is  subject, 
there  is  not  one  which  to  a  greater  degree  shuts  him 
out  from  the  sources  of  pleasure,  and  the  means  of 
usefulness,  than  the  loss  of  sight.  He  may  lose  the 
perception  of  odours,  and  taste,  without  any  diminu- 
tion of  the  higher  order  of  enjoyments;  he  may  also 
be  deprived  of  hearing,  and  yet  may  still  have  access 
to  the  widest  field  of  instruction  and  delight.     But 

OF    HUBER.  123 

he  who  has  lost  the  power  of  vision  is  debarred,  by 
the  most  formidable  obstacles,  from  the  perusal  of 
that  "  book  of  knowledge,"  written  by  the  fair  hand 
of  nature  herself,  in  which  are  to  be  found,  not  the 
pictures  of  things,  drawn  by  other  minds,  but  the 
originals  themselves.  And  yet  there  have  been  men, 
who  have  struggled  with  and  overcome  the  difficulties 
of  this  affliction,  to  a  degree  which  would  be  incredi- 
ble, if  it  did  not  rest  on  the  most  indubitable  proofs. 
How  many  instances  have  there  been  of  blind  persons, 
who  have  pursued  knowledge  with  ardour  and  success, 
and  have  accomplished  undertakings  which  would 
have  done  them  honour,  even  if  they  had  possessed 
all  the  bodily  senses  in  the  highest  degree  of  perfec- 
tion !  The  truth  of  the  above  remarks  will  be  stri- 
kingly illustrated  in  the  following  pages. 

Francis  Huber  was  born  at  Geneva,  in  July,  1 750, 
of  an  honourable  family,  in  which  quickness  of  intel- 
lect and  a  lively  imagination  seemed  hereditary.  His 
father,  John  Huber,  had  the  reputation  of  being  one 
of  the  wisest  men  of  his  time,  and  in  this  light  is  often 
mentioned  by  Voltaire,  who  highly  appreciated  his 
original  conversation;  he  was  also  an  agreeable  mu- 
sician, and  wrote  verses  which  were  praised  even  at 
Ferney.  The  predilections  of  the  father  were  inhe- 
rited by  the  son.  In  his  early  years  he  attended  the 
public  lectures  of  the  college,  and,  under  the  guidance 
of  good  masters,  acquired  a  taste  for  literature,  which 
was  matured  by  the  conversation  of  his  father,  to  whom 
he  was  also  indebted  for  his  love  of  natural  history. 
He  was  initiated  in  the  physical  sciences,  by  attending 

124  THE    LIFE 

the  lectures  of  M.  de  Laussure,  and  by  making  ex- 
periments in  the  laboratory  of  a  relative,  who  ruined 
hi'xself  in  the  search  for  the  philosopher's  stone. 
Endowed  with  great  warmth  of  feeling,  his  precocity 
was  very  remarkable,  and  he  commenced  the  study 
of  natural  objects,  at  an  age  when  others  are  only  be- 
ginning to  be  conscious  of  their  existence.  He  was 
shortly  to  suffer  the  most  grievous  of  all  privations, 
and,  as  if  instinctively,  he  laid  up  a  store  of  recollec- 
tions and  feelings  for  the  remainder  of  his  life. 

About  the  age  of  fifteen,  his  general  health  and  also 
his  eye-sight  began  to  be  impaired ;  his  ardour  in 
the  pursuit  of  knowledge  and  amusement, — the  pas- 
sionate eagerness  with  which  he  followed  his  studies 
by  day,  and  the  reading  of  romances  by  night,  (some- 
times by  no  stronger  light  than  that  of  the  moon,) 
were  the  causes,  it  is  said,  which  threatened  the  ruin 
both  of  his  sight  and  of  his  constitution.  His  father 
at  that  period  took  him  to  Paris,  in  order  to  consult 
Tronchin  on  his  health,  and  Wenzel  on  the  state  of 
his  eyes.  Tronchin,  with  the  view  of  removing  a  ten- 
dency to  consumption,  sent  him  to  pass  some  time  at 
Stein,  a  village  in  the  environs  of  Paris,  that  he 
might  be  out  of  the  reach  of  every  species  of  agitation : 
there  he  lived  the  life  of  a  mere  peasant,  followed  the 
plough,  and  occupied  himself  wholly  in  agricultural 
pursuits.  This  plan  was  completely  successful  so  far 
as  regarded  his  general  health,  which  was  ever  after- 
wards unshaken,  while  he  acquired  a  taste  for  the 
country,  and  a  tender  recollection  of  its  pleasures^ 
which  never  forsook  him.     The  oculist  Wenzel  con- 

OF    HUBER.  125 

sidered  his  sight,  however,  as  incurable  ;  he  thought 
it  unsafe  to  risk  the  operation  for  cataract,  which  was 
then  not  so  well  understood  as  it  is  now,  and  an- 
nounced to  Huber  the  probability  of  his  shortly  be- 
coming completely  blind. 

His  eyes,  however,  in  spite  of  their  weakness  had, 
both  before  his  departure  and   after  his  return,  en- 
countered those  of  Marie-Aimee  LuUin,  the  daughter 
of  one  of  the  Syndics  of  the  republic.     They  had  met 
each  other  frequently  at  the  dancing  master's;  an 
affection,  such  as  is  felt  at  the  age  of  seventeen,  sprang 
up  between  them  and  became  part  of  their  existence, 
and  neither  of  them  believed  it  possible  that  their  fates 
could  be  disunited.    The  speedy  approach,  however,  of 
Huber's  blindness,  determined  M.  Lullin  to  refuse 
his  consent  to  their  union,  but  as  the  misfortune  of 
him  whom  she  had  chosen  as  her  future  partner,  be- 
came more  certain,  Marie  regarded  herself  as  bound 
never  to  forsake  him.     "  But,"  said  she,  "  now  that 
he  requires  a  guide  to  be  every  moment  with  him, 
nothing  shall  prevent  me  from  being  united  to  him." 
Her  early  attachment  was  rivetted  by  time,  and  after- 
wards became  a  species  of  generous  heroism  ;  and  she 
resolved  to  wait  till  she  had  attained  her  majority, 
(then  fixed  at  twenty-five  years,)  in  order  to  be  united 
to  Huber.     To  all  the  temptations,  and  even  to  all 
the  persecutions,  by  which  her  father  endeavoured  to 
shake  her  resolution,  she  remained  impregnable  ;  and 
the  moment  she  attained  her  majority,  she  presented 
herself  at  the  altar,  with  the   spouse  whom  she  had 
chosen  when  he  was  happy  and  attractive,  and  to  cheer 

126  THE   LIFE 

whose  melancholy  fate  she  wa;s  now  resolved  to  devote 
hei'  life. 

Being  united  to  the  object  of  her  disinterested  affec- 
tion, their  mutual  good  conduct  soon  obtained  pardon 
for  their  disobedience.  The  constancy  of  Madame 
Huber  was,  in  all  respects,  worthy  of  the  juvenile  en- 
ergy which  she  had  displayed,  and  during  the  forty 
years'  continuance  of  their  union,  she  never  ceased  to 
bestow  the  tenderest  care  on  her  blind  husband ;  she 
was  his  reader,  and  his  secretary,  made  obsei*vations 
for  him,  and  spared  him  every  embaiTassment  that 
his  situation  was  likely  to  produce.  This  excellent 
woman  soon  discovered  a  thousand  means  of  allevi- 
ating her  husband's  unfortunate  calamity.  During 
the  war  she  formed  whole  armies  with  pins  of  various 
sizes,  and  thus  enabled  him  to  distinguish  the  posi- 
tions of  the  different  corps  ;  she  likewise  stuck  the  pins 
in  a  map,  which  gave  him  a  correct  idea  of  the  move- 
ment of  the  troops ;  and  she  formed  plans,  in  relief' 
of  the  places  they  occupied.  In  a  word,  she  had  but  one 
occupation,  that  of  making  the  life  of  her  husband  hap- 
py, and  to  such  a  point  did  this  amiable  woman  carry 
her  attentions,  that  M.  Huber  asserted,  that  he  should 
be  miserable  were  he  to  cease  to  be  blind.  "I  should 
not  know,"  said  he,  *'to  what  extent  a  person  in  my 
situation  could  be  beloved  ;  besides,  to  me,  my  wife 
is  always  young,  fresh,  and  pretty,  and  that  is  no 
light  matter."  This  affectionate  instance  of  conjugal 
attachment  has  been  mentioned  by  celebrated  writers  • 
Voltaire  frequently  alludes  to  it  in  his  correspondence, 
and  the  episode  of  the  Belmont  family  in  Delphine, 

OF    HUBER.  12T 

is  a  ti'ue  picture,  although  somewhat  veiled,  of  that 
of  Huber  and  his  wife. 

We  have  seen  blind  men  excel  as  poets  ;  some  have 
distinguished  themselves  as  philosophers,  and  others 
as  arithmeticians ;  but  it  was  reserved  for  Huber  to 
become  illustrious,  in  a  science  requiring  the  exami- 
nation of  objects  so  minute,  that  the  most  clear  sighted 
observers  find  a  difficulty  in  distinguishing  them. 
The  perusal  of  the  works  of  Reaumur  and  Bonnet,  and 
the  conversations  of  the  latter,  directed  his  curiosity 
to  the  study  of  bees ;  his  constant  residence  in  the 
country  inspired  him,  first,  with  the  desire  of  verifying 
some  facts,  and  afterwards  of  supplying  some  deficien- 
cies in  the  history  of  these  insects.  But,  for  this  kind 
of  observation,  it  was  not  only  necessary  that  he  should 
have  an  instrument  such  as  the  labours  of  the  optician 
might  supply,  but  also  an  intelligent  assistant,  whom 
he  could  instruct  in  the  use  of  it.  At  this  time,  he 
had  a  servant  in  his  family,  named  Francis  Burnens, 
e(|ually  remarkable  for  his  sagacity,  and  for  his  at- 
tachment to  his  master.  Huber  drilled  him  in  the 
art  of  observing,  directed  him  in  his  inquiries  by 
questions  dexterously  proposed,  and  by  means  of  his 
own  youthful  recollections,  and  the  confirmatory  tes- 
timony of  his  wife  and  friends,  he  corrected  the  re- 
ports of  his  assistant,  and  in  this  way  succeeded  in 
acquiring  a  clear  and  accurate  idea  of  the  most  minute 
facts.  "T  am  much  more  certain,"  he  said  to  a  friend 
one  day,  laughing,  "  of  what  I  relate  than  you  are 
yourself,  for  you  publish  only  what  you  have  seen 
with  your  own  eyes,  whereas  1  take  a  medium  among 

128  THE    LIFE 

the  testimony  of  many."  This,  indeed,  is  very  plaus- 
ible reasoning,  but  will  induce  no  one  to  quarrel  with 
his  eyes. 

Huber  discovered  that  the  mysterious  and  remark- 
ably prolific  nuptials  of  the  queen  bee,  the  single  mo- 
ther of  all  her  tribe,  are  celebrated,  not  in  the  hive, 
but  in  the  open  air,  at  an  elevation  sufficiently  great 
to  escape  ordinary  eyes,   but  not  to  elude  the  re- 
searches of  a  blind  man,  aided  by  a  peasant ;  and  he 
described  in  detail  the  consequences  of  the  early  or 
late  celebration  of  this  aerial  hymen.    He  confirmed, 
by  repeated  observation,  the  discovery  of  Schirach, 
at  that  time  disputed ;  that  bees  can  at  their  pleasure 
transform,  by  an  appropriate  kind  of  food,  the  eggs 
of  working  bees  to  queens,  or,  to  speak  more  correctly, 
neuters  to  females ;  he  showed  also  how  some  working 
bees  can  lay  productive  eggs.     He  described  with 
great  care  the  combats  of  the  queen  bees  with  each 
other,  the  massacre  of  the  drones,  and  all  the  singu- 
lar circumstances  that  take  place  in  the  hive,  when  a 
foreign  queen  is  substituted  for  the  indigenous  one. 
He  showed  the  influence  produced  by  the  size  of  the 
cells,  on  the  growth  of  the  insects  reared  in  them,  and 
how  the  larvae  of  the  bees  spin  the  silk  of  their  cells. 
Huber  proved  to  demonstration  that  the  queen  is  ovi- 
parous; he  studied  the  origin  of  swarms,  and  was  the 
first  who  gave  an  accurate  history  of  the  flying  colo- 
nies.   He  pointed  out  the  use  of  their  antennae  in  en- 
abling the  bees  to  distinguish  each  other;  and,  finally, 
from  the  knowledge  he  had  acquired  of  their  policy. 

OF    HUBER.  129 

he  drew  up  good  rules  for  their  economical  superin- 
tendance.  For  the  greater  part  of  these  delicate  ob- 
servations, on  hitherto  unnoticed  facts,  he  was  indebted 
to  his  invention,  under  various  forms,  of  glass  hives ; 
one  description  of  which  he  termed  ruches  en  livre 
or  en  feuillettes,  book  or  sheet  hives,  and  the  other 
ruches  plates,  flat  hives,  which  allowed  the  labours  of 
the  community  to  be  witnessed  in  their  minutest 

These  discoveries  were  gi'eatly  facilitated  by  Bur- 
nens,  who  in  his  zeal  for  the  discovery  of  truth,  would 
brave  without  shrinking  the  wrath  of  an  entire  hive, 
in  order  to  discover  the  most  insignificant  fact,  and 
was  even  seen  to  seize  an  enormous  wasp,  in  spite  of 
the  grievous  stings  of  a  whole  nest  of  hornets.  From 
this,  we  may  judge  of  the  enthusiasm  with  which  his 
master  (and  I  use  the  term  here,  not  in  the  sense  of 
employer  but  instructor,)  inspired  all  his  agents  in 
the  pursuit  of  truth.  The  publication  of  his  labours 
took  place  in  1792,  in  the  fonn  of  letters  to  Charles 
Bonnet,  and  under  the  title  of  "  Nouvelles  Observa- 
tions sur  les  Abeilles."  Naturalists  were  much  struck, 
not  only  with  the  novelty  of  the  facts,  detailed  in 
this  work,  but  with  their  rigorous  accuracy,  and  the 
extraordinary  difficulties  which  the  author  had  com- 
bated so  successfully. 

The  activity  of  his  researches  suffered  no  interrup- 
tion, either  from  this  first  success,  which  might  have 
satisfied  his  personal  vanity,  or  from  the  embarras- 
sing changes  occasioned  by  the  revolution,  and  his 

130  THE    LIFE 

separation  from  his  faithful  Burnens.  Another  as- 
sistant was  necessary  to  him,  and  this  office  his  wife 
performed  for  some  time.  His  son  Peter,  who  after- 
wards acquired  considerable  celebrity  by  his  history 
of  ants  and  other  insects,  next  commenced  his  ap- 
prenticeship as  observer  to  his  father;  and  it  was 
principally  by  his  assistance,  that  Huber  made  new 
and  laborious  researches  into  the  history  of  bees. 
These  researches  form  the  second  volume  of  the  se- 
cond edition  of  his  work,  published  in  1814,  and 
partly  edited  by  his  son. 

The  origin  of  wax  was  then  a  disputed  point  among 
naturalists,  some  affirming,  but  without  sufficient  proof, 
that  it  was  formed  with  the  honey ;  Huber,  who  had 
successfully  cleared  up  the  origin  of  the  propolis, 
confirmed  this  opinion  by  numerous  observations,  and 
in  particular,  showed,  with  the  assistance  of  Burnens, 
how  the  wax  escapes  in  the  shape  of  flakes  between  the 
rings  of  the  abdomen.  He  devoted  himself  to  labo- 
rious researches  on  the  formation  of  the  bee-hive,  and 
followed  step  by  step  its  wonderful  construction,  which 
seems  to  resolve,  by  its  perfection,  the  most  delicate 
problems  of  geometry ;  he  also  pointed  out  the  part 
which  each  class  of  bees  takes  in  forming  the  hive,  and 
followed  their  labours  from  the  rudiments  of  the  first 
cell,  until  the  completion  of  the  honey  comb.  Huber 
first  made  known  the  ravages  of  the  sphinx  atropos  in 
the  hives  which  it  enters.  He  even  attempted  to  clear 
up  the  history  of  the  senses  in  bees,  and  in  particular 
to  ascertain  the  locality  of  the  sense  of  smell,  the  ex- 

OF    HUBER.  131 

istence  of  which  is  proved  by  the  whole  historj'  of  in- 
sects, but  the  seat  of  which,  their  structure  has  not 
yet  enabled  us  to  fix  with  certainty.  He  also  under- 
took curious  researches  on  the  respiration  of  bees, 
and  proved,  by  numerous  experiments,  that  they 
absorb  oxygen  like  other  animals.  The  question, 
however,  arose,  how  could  the  purity  of  the  air  be 
maintained,  in  a  hive  plastered  with  mastic,  and 
closed  in  all  its  parts,  except  at  the  naiTow  orifice 
which  serves  as  the  entrance  ?  This  problem  required 
all  the  sagacity  of  our  observer,  and  he  finally  am- 
ved  at  the  conclusion,  that  the  bees,  by  a  particular 
movement  of  their  wings,  agitate  the  air  in  such  a 
manner  as  to  produce  its  renovation;  after  having  as- 
sured himself  of  this  by  direct  observations,  he  fur- 
ther proved  it,  by  means  of  the  experiment  of  an  ar- 
tificial ventilation.  These  experiments  on  respira- 
tion required  some  analysis  of  the  air  in  bee-hives, 
and  this  brought  Huberinto  correspondence  with  Se- 
nebier,  who  was  then  occupied  with  similar  research- 
es on  vegetables.  Among  the  means  that  Huber 
had  at  first  devised,  for  discovering  the  nature  of  the 
air  in  bee-hives,  was  that  of  producing  the  germina- 
tion of  various  kinds  of  seeds,  in  accordance  with  the 
notion,  that  they  never  germinate  in  an  atmosphere 
that  has  not  its  due  quantity  of  oxygen.  This  ex- 
periment, although  inadequate  to  the  end  proposed, 
suggested  to  the  two  friends  the  idea  of  occupying 
themselves  with  inquiries  on  germination;  and  the 
most  curious  part  of  this  association  is  the  fact,  that 

132  THE    LIFE 

very  frequently  it  was  Senebier  who  suggested  the 
experiments,  and  Huber,  deprived  of  sight,  who  ex- 
ecuted them.  Their  labours  have  been  published  in 
their  joint  names,  under  the  title  of  *VMemoires 
sur  ITnfluence  de  I'Air  dans  la  Germination  des 

The  style  of  Huber  is,  in  general,  clear  and  elegant, 
and  while  not  destitute  of  the  precision  required  in 
didactic  compositions,  it  is  blended  with  that  charm 
which  a  poetical  imagination  is  capable  of  diffusing 
over  all  objects.  That,  however,  by  which  it  is  par- 
ticularly distinguished,  is  what  would  be  least  ex- 
pected, the  description  of  facts  in  so  gi'aphic  a  man- 
ner, that  in  the  perusal  we  seem  ourselves  to  see  the 
objects  which  the  author,  alas,  had  not  seen.  In  con- 
sidering this  singular  quality  of  the  style  of  a  bUnd 
person,  I  have  accounted  for  it,  by  the  efforts  it  must 
have  cost  him  to  connect  the  accounts  of  his  assistants, 
in  order  to  form  a  complete  idea. 

His  taste  for  the  fine  arts,  being  deprived  of  the 
power  of  expatiating  on  form,  was  led  to  sounds. 
He  loved  poetry  but  music,  had  the  greatest  charms 
for  him :  his  taste  for  it  might  be  called  innate,  and 
he  was  greatly  indebted  to  it  throughout  his  whole 
life,  as  a  source  of  delightful  recreation ;  his  voice  also 
was  agreeable,  and  he  had  been  initiated  from  his 
earliest  youth  in  the  beauties  of  ItaHan  music. 

The  wish  to  keep  up  acquaintance  with  absent 
friends,  without  recourse  to  a  secretary,  suggested 
to  him  the  idea  of  having  a  printing  press  for  his 

OF    HUBER.  133 

own  use ;  it  was  made  for  him  by  his  servant,  Claude 
Lechet,  whom  he  had  inspired  with  a  taste  for  me- 
chanics, in  the  same  way  that  he  had  formerly  in- 
structed Burnens  in  natural  history.  A  series  of  num- 
bered cases  contained  small  printing  types,  executed 
in  bold  relief,  which  he  arranged  in  his  hand.  On  the 
lines  thus  composed,  he  placed  a  sheet  of  paper  black- 
ened with  a  particular  kind  of  ink,  and  above  that  a 
sheet  of  white  paper  ;  w'ith  a  press,  set  in  motion  by 
his  foot,  he  succeeded  in  printing  a  letter,  which  he 
folded  and  sealed  himself,  greatly  delighted  with  the 
idea  of  that  independence  of  others,  which  he  hoped  to 
acquire  by  this  means.  The  difficulty,  however,  of 
putting  the  press  into  action  made  him  soon  abandon 
the  use  of  it ;  but  the  letters,  and  the  algebraic  cha- 
racters of  burnt  earth,  which  his  son,  ever  zealous  and 
ingenious  in  his  service,  had  made  for  him,  were  a 
source  of  occupation  and  amusement  for  upwards  of 
fifteen  years.  He  enjoyed  also  the  pleasure  of  walking 
in  the  fields,  and  was  even  able  to  do  this  alone ;  by 
means  of  strings  in  his  hand,  and  small  knots  made  at 
intervals,  he  always  knew  where  he  was,  and  would 
direct  himself  accordingly.  The  activity  of  his  mind 
made  it  necessary  that  he  should  have  such  occupa- 
tions, or  he  might  have  been  amongst  the  most  mise- 
rable of  mankind ;  his  friends  around  him  also  had 
no  other  wish  than  to  please  and  assist  him,  and  it 
therefore  ceases  to  be  a  wonder  how  he  preserved  that 
happy  disposition,  which  is  so  often  destroyed  by 
collision  with  mankind. 

The  conversation  of  Huber  was  generally  of  an 
amiable  and  pleasant  cast ;    his   wit   was   gay   and 


184-  THE    LIFE 

lively  ;  and  to  few  departments  of  knowledge  was  he 
a  stranger.  He  delighted  in  elevating  his  thoughts 
to  the  conteinplation  of  the  most  lofty  and  important 
subjects,  and  he  could  also  descend  to  the  most  playful 
and  familiar.  He  was  not  learned,  in  the  usual  ac- 
ceptance of  the  term,  but,  like  a  skilful  diver,  he  ex- 
plored the  depths  of  every  question  with  extraordinary 
tact  and  sagacity.  When  the  conversation  turned  on 
subjects  in  which  he  felt  more  than  common  interest, 
his  fine  countenance  became  peculiarly  animated;  the 
vivacity  of  his  physiognomy,  by  some  mysterious 
charm,  seemed  to  give  expression  even  to  his  eyes,  so 
long  condemned  to  darkness,  and  the  tones  of  his  voice 
then  became  more  solemn  and  impressive.  To  ex- 
tensive knowledge,  M.  Huber  also  joined  an  extraor- 
dinary memory  :  he  related,  in  a  most  graceful  style, 
a  great  variety  of  interesting  anecdotes,  and  nothing 
could  be  more  affecting  than  to  hear  him  sing  the  words 
of  the  scene  between  Oedipus  and  his  daughter. 

This  extraordinary  man  passed  the  latter  years  of 
his  life  at  Lausanne,  under  the  care  of  his  daughter, 
Madame  de  Molin,  and  from  time  to  time  he  resumed 
his  early  pursuits.  The  discovery  of  stingless  bees  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Tampico,  by  Captain  Hall,  ex- 
cited his  interest,  and  his  joy  was  great  when  his 
friend.  Professor  Prevost,  was  able  to  send  him,  first  a 
few  specimens,  and  afterwards  a  whole  hive  of  these 
insects.  This  was  the  last  attention  he  paid  to  that 
favourite  pursuit,  to  which  he  had  been  indebted  for 
his  fame,  and,  what  was  more,  for  his  happiness. 
Natm-alists,  who  have  followed  in  his  track,  although 
enjoying  the  benefit  of  sight,  have    found  nothing 

OF    HUBER.  135 

of  importance  to  add  to  the  observations  of  one  who 
was  deprived  of  vision. 

Huber  preserved  his  faculties,  and  was  both  amiable 
and  beloved  to  the  last.  At  the  age  of  eighty-one  he 
thus  wrote  to  one  of  his  dearest  friends  ;  "  There  are 
moments  when  it  is  impossible  to  keep  one's  arms  fol- 
ded, and  it  is  then,  in  unbracing  them  a  little,  that 
we  can  repeat  to  those  whom  we  love,  all  the  esteem, 
the  affection,  and  the  gratitude  with  which  they  in- 
spire us;"  further  on,  he  added,  "I  can  only  say  to 
you,  that  resignation  and  serenity  are  blessings  that 
have  not  been  denied  to  me."  He  wrote  these  lines 
on  the  20th  of  December,  and  on  the  22nd  he  was  no 
more,  having  calmly  breathed  his  last  in  the  arms  of 
his  daughter. 


Memoirs  of  the  Empress  Josephine,  vol.  1 — Foreign  Quar- 
terly Review,  vol.  10.  p  561 — Edinburgh  Review  for  1815. 


136  THE    LIFE 




But  Oh;  instead  af  Nature's  face, 
Hills,  dales,  and  woods,  and  streams  combined. 
Instead  of  tints,  and  forms,  and  grace, 
Night's  blackest  mantle  shrouds  the  Blind. 

The  many  bright  examples  that  have  already  been 
given  of  individuals  who,  in  this  state  of  blindness, 
have  distinguished  themselves  by  their  eminence  in 
the  severest  exercises  of  the  mind,  particularly  in  the 
acquisition  of  knowledge,  evince  how  strong  must  be 
the  natural  love  of  knowledge  in  the  human  mind, 
when,  even  in  the  midst  of  such  impediments,  its 
gratification  has,  in  so  many  instances,  been  so  eagerly 
sought,  and  its  end,  so  largely  attained. 

Alexander  Davidson,  A.M.  was  born  at  Dalkeith, 
a  village  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Edinburgh,  of 
humble,  but  respectable  parents,  who  sent  him  early 
to  the  village  school.  Here,  before  he  could  number 
his  seventh  year,  he  had  been  taught  to  read  with 
facility  and  interest,  the  Sacred  Volume,  which  im- 
parts to  the  peasantry  of  Scotland  the  virtue  and  in- 

OF    DAVIDSON.  137 

telligence  that  distinguish  them  among  nations, 
which,  by  its  doctrines  and  precepts,  addresses  itself  to 
man  as  ignorant  and  erring ;  while,  by  its  consolations 
and  supports,  it  regards  the  ever-varying  conditions  of 
his  changeful  life. 

Soon  were  the  parents  of  young  Davidson  doomed 
to  prove  the  strength  of  these  consolations.  Their  son 
was  seized  with  a  violent  fever  from  which  he  recover- 
ed, but  with  the  loss  of  both  his  eyes.  Light,  colour, 
the  fair  scene  of  nature,  and  the  beautiful  objects  to 
which  the  organ  of  vision  renders  us  alive,  seem  to 
have  been  cherished  by  him  with  the  fondest  recollec- 
tions ;  and  in  his  lecture  on  the  structure  of  the  eye, 
and  the  inestimable  pleasures  and  benefits  we  enjoy 
by  means  of  it,  his  voice  and  language  partook  of  a 
tenderness  and  pathos  which  were  inexpressibly  affect- 
ing. The  precocity  of  young  Davidson's  powers,  and 
the  ardent  attachment  for  learning  he  discovered  be- 
fore that  sad  calamity  befel  him,  aided  perhaps  by  the 
anxious  desire  of  gratifying  the  inclination  of  a  being 
now  doubly  indeared  to  their  affection,  determined  his 
parents  to  continue  his  education.  In  the  attachment 
of  his  playmates  he  found  a  ready  resource  for  con- 
ducting him  to  and  from  school,  while  the  assiduity 
of  the  family  circle  enabled  him  to  acquire  the  tasks, 
now  become  incalculably  more  laborious,  which  his 
teacher  prescribed  to  him.  In  the  same  way,  but  with 
the  assistance  of  a  lad  who  was  engaged  to  attend  him 
constantly,  he  proceeded  through  the  Latin  classics ; 
committing  to  memory  the  text  of  each  author,  as 
well  as  the  arrangement  of  syntax,  and  the  vernacular 
translation.  Laborious  and  unceasing  were  the  toils 

138  THE    LIFE 

he  had  thus  to  undergo ;  but  his  powers  seemed  to  ex- 
pand with  an  elasticity  proportioned  to  the  burden 
they  had  to  sustain,  while  he  soon  began  to  experience 
an  ample  reward  for  all  his  labours,  in  the  access  which 
they  gave  him  to  the  finest  models  of  literature  and 
taste,  to  examples  of  the  most  fascinating  creations  of 
the  imagination,  to  the  most  delicate  application  of  the 
powers  of  language,  and  to  the  exhibition  of  common 
objects,  through  the  splendid  medium  with  which 
genius  alone  can  invest  them.  On  leaving  the  gram- 
mar school  he  went  to  the  University  of  Edinburgh, 
and  became  a  pupil  of  the  late  Dngald  Stewart;  and 
it  is  certain  that  the  full  flowing  periods  which  dis- 
tinguished Mr.  Davidson's  composition,  had  their  pro- 
tot\  pe  in  the  elegant  prelections  of  that  philosopher. 
Mr.  D.'s  studies  had  hitherto  been  conducted  with 
the  view  of  qualifying  himself  for  the  ministerial  office 
in  one  of  our  dissenting  establishments,  and  having 
gone  through  all  the  previous  exercises  and  trials 
which  are  usual  for  candidates  requiring  license,  some 
warm  debates  arose  among  the  judges,  whether  the 
misfortune  he  laboured  under  did  not  altogether  dis- 
qualify him  for  any  active  charge.  Struck  with  dis- 
may at  the  complete  subversion  of  all  his  fondly  che- 
rished hopes,  his  feelings  maybe  more  easily  imagined 
than  described  :  suffice  it  to  say,  that  they  were  of 
the  most  acute  and  poignant  kind.  What  was  now  to 
be  done  ?  to  what  employmont  of  his  talents  was  he 
to  look,  for  tliat  future  maintenance  which  it  is  the  in- 
dispensable and  therefore  the  proper  duty  of  every  one 
to  endeavour  to  procure  ?  A  difl^erent  denomination  of 
Christians,  with  a  liberality  and  humanity  which  do 

OF    DAVIDSON.  139 

them  credit,  offered  him  a  license,  but  this  he  could  not 
accept,  without  breaking  through  the  prejudices  of  his 
early  education,  instilled  into  his  mind  and  woven 
about  his  heart,  by  objects  endeared  to  him  by  more 
than  filial  affection.  From  medicine,  that  friendly  re- 
source of  the  divinity  student  who  feels  all  hope  of 
success  in  his  intended  profession  die  within  him,  he 
was,  by  his  peculiar  circumstances,  entirely  excluded. 
In  this  dilemma,  it  fortunately  occurred  to  him  to  di- 
rect his  attention  to  natural  philosophy  and  chemistry, 
and  his  determination  was  confirmed  by  the  suc- 
cessful career  of  a  gentleman  who  had  precisely  the 
same  difficulties  to  overcome,  I  mean  the  celebrated 
Dr.  Moyes. 

Mr.  Davidson  enjoyed  the  great  advantage  of  pro- 
secuting his  chemical  studies  under  the  instruction  of 
that  eminent  philosopher  Dr.  Black,  whose  zeal  for 
a  science,  rapidly  advancing  in  interest  and  import- 
ance, under  his  own  investigations,  as  well  as  those 
of  his  contemporaries,  he  had  the  happy  talent  of 
communicating  to  the  minds  of  his  students.  The 
mind  of  Davidson,  naturally  ardent,  and  now  stimu- 
lated by  the  most  powerful  motives  that  can  call  forth 
exertion,  fully  responded  lo  the  Doctor's  incitements, 
and  his  acquirements  were  proportionably  great. 

Mr.  Davidson's  lectures  were  characterized  by 
two  very  distinctive  features;  the  one,  the  sublime 
and  magnificent  conceptions  they  conveyed  of  the 
wisdom  and  beneficence  which  may  be  traced  in  the 
an'angements  of  nature,  the  other,  the  simplicity 
with  which  the  explanation  of  any  doctrine  was  com- 
menced, and  the  light  which,  with  gradually  increas- 

140  THE    LIFE 

ing  intensity,  was  thrown  upon  it,  till  the  whole  ap- 
peared in  the  full  hlaze  of  truth,  carrying  conviction 
to  the  most  scrupulous  mind.  The  former  of  those 
qualities  may  be  safely  referred  to  his  previous  pur- 
suits, but  the  latter,  I  have  no  hesitation  in  affirming, 
was  the  natural  result  of  the  recommendation  and  ex- 
ample of  Dr.  Black,  and  could  proceed  only  from 
the  profound  investigation  of  his  subject,  in  all  its 
bearings.  The  theory  of  latent  heat,  the  discovery 
of  which  forms  so  remarkable  an  sera  in  the  his- 
tory of  chemical  science,  and  cro\\Tis  the  pyramid, 
of  Dr.  Black's  fame,  was  not,  it  may  be  expected, 
overlooked  by  his  scholar ;  and  accordingly  his  expla- 
nation of  that  interesting  doctrine,  would  do  no  dis- 
credit to  its  illustrious  author. 

Mr.  Davidson  commenced  his  career  as  a  public 
lecturer  in  Edinburgh,  amidst  the  numerous  circle, 
which  his  peculiar  condition,  his  previous  history  and 
college  reputation,  had  drawn  around  him,  and  which 
gradually  removed  a  natural  timidity  and  diffidence  in 
his  own  powers,  which  threatened  to  obscure  their 
lustre.  He  set  out  from  Edinburgh  to  make  the 
tour  of  Scotland,  in  the  course  of  which  he  visited  the 
principal  cities  and  towns  of  that  kingdom,  and  in  eac 
of  those  places  he  delivered  one  or  two  courses  of  lec- 
tures, to  numerous  audiences,  who  uniformly  bore  tes- 
timony to  his  profound  views  and  fascinating  elo- 
(juence.  Let  not  my  readers  suppose  that  jNIr.  David- 
son's peculiar  condition  disqualified  him  for  being  of 
practical  utility  :  many  experiments,  instituted  under 
his  direction,  had  practical  and  most  beneficial  results. 
Of  these  we  may  mention  an  example.   Happening  in 

OF    DAVIDSOX.  141 

the  common  course  of  his  progress,  to  rest  at  a  village 
near  which  was  a  pit,  whose  workings  were  impeded, 
and  sometimes  interrupted  for  days  together,  by  the 
copious  production  of  choke  damp,  the  carbonic  acid 
gas  of  chemistry,  the  proprietor  applied  to  our  philo- 
sopher for  aid.  On  enquiry  Mr.  D.  found  that  the 
mode  of  ventilating  the  mine,  was  by  means  of  a  wide 
pipe,  after  which  being  carried  partly  along  the  floor, 
ascended  by  the  shaft,  and  had  its  upper  end  termi- 
nating in  a  cast  iron  cylinder.  This  cyhnder  was  in- 
troduced into  the  middle  of  a  furnace,  the  heat  of  which 
by  expanding  the  air  produced  a  current  which  ulti- 
mately removed  the  annoyance.  Mr.  Davidson  imme- 
diately proposed  an  alteration  in  this  aiTangement ; 
namely,  to  substitute  for  the  furnace  a  large  smith's 
bellows,  which  was  accordingly  done.  The  whole 
village  emptied  itself  of  its  inhabitants,  to  witness 
the  "blin'  philosopher  blawin'  awa'  the  win',''  as 
they  termed  it,  and  many  jokes  and  sarcasms  were 
freely  vented  on  the  occasion.  But,  unmoved  as  the 
rock  amidst  the  dashing  waves,  he  calmly  proceeded 
to  connect  the  pipe  with  the  valve  of  the  bellows,  and 
directing  the  nozzle  away  from  the  wind,  he  set  the 
gaping  multitude  to  work;  and  after  some  time  to 
mark  the  progress  of  the  experiment,  caused  a  bucket 
with  burning  coals  to  be  let  down  into  the  shaft.  The 
pitmen's  scoffing  was  now  changed  into  the  most  un- 
bounded admiration  of  our  philosopher's  sagacity,  when 
they  perceived  by  this  unequivocal  test,  the  rapidity 
with  which  their  formidable  foe  was  dragged  forth 
from  his  lodgement,  and  that  too  by  a  contrivance 
so  simple.     Two  bellows  of  a  lighter  construction,  and 

142  THE    LIFE 

capable  of  being  wrought  with  less  effort,  were  after- 
wards emplo3'ed. 

This  amiable  and  accomplished  philosopher  was 
now  drawing  near  the  end  of  his  earthly  pilgrimage ; 
he  had  long  suffered  from  a  nervous  disease  which  end- 
ed in  apoplexy.  A  friend  who  saw  him  a  few  weeks 
previous  to  his  death  writes  thus, —  "  I  have  seen  poor 
Davidson,  but  Oh  !  what  a  change.  Of  his  vigorous 
intellect  nothing  now  appears  to  remain  but  a  melan- 
choly ruin,  in  which  I  can  scarcely  recognise  the  out- 
line of  those  stately  proportions  which  so  often  filled 
me  with  admiration  and  delight."  He  died  at  the  latter 
end  of  the  year  1826. 

Mr.  Davidson  was  twice  married,  his  first  wife  was 
Isabella  Dods,  by  whom  he  has  one  surviving  daugh- 
ter, and  his  second  the  daughter  of  the  late  Rev.  Dr. 
Young,  of  Harwick,  whose  children  amved  only  at 
that  age  at  which  they  begin  to  attract  a  father's  notice. 
The  assaults  of  these  family  afflictions  had  doubtless 
an  unfavourable  effect  in  accelerating  the  progress  of 
the  nervous  disease  under  which  he  then  laboured. 
Both  ladies  managed  his  experiments  with  a  neatness 
and  grace,  which  excited  general  admiration  and  put 
to  shame  the  clumsy  manipulations  of  us  male  prac- 
titioners. As  a  public  lecturer  Mr.  Davidson  was 
much  admired.  The  following  extract  from  one  of  his 
manuscript  lectures  will  be  read  with  interest,  and  is 
no  unfavourable  specimen  of  his  style. 

'*  For  what  purpose  was  the  great  volume  of  creation 
unfolded  to  the  view  of  mankind  ?  and  why  were  the 
perfections  of  its  infinite  author,  there  delineated  in 
characters  so  legible,  that  they  cannot  possibly  be 
mistaken  ?  if  it  was  not  meant  for  our  instruction  to 


afford  lis  an  opportunity  of  fulfilling  in  part  the  great 
design  of  our  being.     The  man  who  can  enttertain  a 
doubt  that  the  stupendous  fabric  of  the  universe  was 
built  by  a  being  whose  wisdom,  power,  and  goodness, 
shine  with  undiminished  lustre  in  every  part  of  his 
works,  is  either   one  who  never  possessed  a  rational 
faculty,  or  who  in  the   course  of  his  enquiries  has 
given  it  such  violent  exercise  as  to  render  it  absolutely 
unfit  for  discharging  its  proper  functions.     Such  an 
accident,  however,    although  it  is  the  misfortune  of 
of  some,  is  by  no  means  the  consequence  of  their  re- 
searches into  the  works  of  nature;  for  while  the  interests 
of  society  are  promoted  by  such  researches,    they  are 
calculated  at  the  same  time,  to  strengthen  the  powers 
of  the  mind,  to  conduct  the  man  of  science  by  sure 
and  uninterrupted  steps,  to  the  fountain  of  existence 
in  general,  and  to  the  absolute  dependence  of  every 
link  in  the  great  chain  of  causes  and  eiTects,  on  the 
will  of  that  Almighty  Sovereign  who  regulates  the 
whole  by  fixed  and  invariable  laws;  and  on  whose  aw- 
ful scale  hangs  the  determination  of  every  event.  The 
more,  in  short,  he  indulges  in  this  study,  the  greater 
pleasures  will  he  receive  ;  for  in  the  great  laboratory 
of  nature,  he  meets  with  every  thing,  that  can  either 
gratify  his  curiosity,  excite  his  admiration,  enlarge 
his  understanding,  add  to  his  humility,  soften  his 
disposition,  or  awaken  the  very  finest  sympathies  of 
his  soul." 


Macome's  Life  of  Davidson, — The  Mechanics  Magazine, 
Manuscript  Lectures  of  Mr.  D. 

14.4i  THE    LIFE 




"  Erin  from  her  green  throne  surveys 

The  progress  of  lier  tuneful  son, 
Exulting  as  the  minstrel  plays, 

At  the  applause  his  harp  has  won. 
Then  grieve  not  for  the  loss  that  shades 

fair  nature's  landscape  from  your  view  : 
The  genius,  that  uo  gloom  invades, 

She  gave  in  recompense  to  50U." 

Carolan  was  one  oftlie  last,  and  most  celebrated 
of  the  Irish  bards,  whose  compositions  have  been  as 
much  admired  for  their  extraordinary  variety,  as  for 
their  exquisite  melody  ;  he  is  said  to  have  composed 
upwards  of  four  hundred  pieces.  This  account,  how- 
ever, is  perhaps  exaggerated  ;  but  be  this  as  it  may, 
the  Irish  national  music  has  been  greatly  enriched 
by  his  productions.  I  am  sorry  to  say  that  we  know 
but  little  of  the  history  of  this  extraordinary  genius. 
It  appears  that  he  spent  his  life  as  an  itinerant  musi- 
cian, and  was  made  welcome  at  the  houses  of  the 
great ;  and  there,  with  the  tales  of  other  days,  en- 
lightened the  convivial  hours. 

OF    CAROLA.N.  145 

This  celebrated  poet  and  miisician,  was  born  in  the 
year  1670,  in  the  village  of  Nobber,  in  the  county  of 
Westmeath,  on  the  lands  of  Carolan's  town.  His 
father  was  a  poor  farmer,  the  humble  proprietor  of  a 
few  acres,  which  yielded  him  a  scanty  subsistence. 

The  small  pox  deprived  Carolan  of  his  sight,  at  so 
early  a  period  of  his  life,  that  he  retained  no  recollec- 
tion of  colours  ;  thus  was  "knowledge  at  one  entrance 
quite  shut  out,"  before  he  had  taken  even  a  cursory  view 
of  nature.  His  musical  talents  were  soon  discovered, 
and  his  friends  determined  to  cultivate  them.  About 
the  age  of  twelve,  a  proper  master  was  engaged  to  in- 
struct him  in  the  practice  of  the  harp ;  but  though  fond 
of  that  instrument,  he  never  struck  it  with  a  master's 
hand.  Genius  and  diligence  are  seldom  united,  and 
it  is  practice  alone  which  can  perfect  us  in  any  art; 
yet  his  harp  was  seldom  unstrung,  though  in  general  he 
used  it  only  to  assist  himself  in  composition.  He  mar- 
ried a  young  lady  of  the  name  of  Miss  Maguire,  of  a 
good  family,  in  the  county  of  Fermanagh.  After  this 
event  he  took  up  his  residence  at  a  small  farm  near 
Moss-hill,  in  the  county  of  Leitrim  :  here  he  built  a 
neat  little  house,  where  he  gave  every  friend  a  kind 
and  hearty  welcome.  Hospitality  consumed  the  pro- 
duce of  his  little  farm ;  he  ate,  drank,  and  was  merry, 
and  improvidently  left  to-morrow  to  provide  for  itself. 
This  sometimes  occasioned  embarrassments  in  his  do- 
mestic affairs,  but  he  had  no  friend  to  remind  him 
that  nothing  can  supply  the  want  of  prudence,  and 
that  negligence  and  iiTegularity,  long  continued,  will 
make  knowledge  and  wit  ridiculous,  and  genius  con- 


146  THE    LIFE 

At  what  period  of  his  life  Carolan  became  an 
itinerant  musician,  is  not  related,  nor  is  it  certainly 
known  whether  he  was  m'ged  to  this  change  in  his 
manner  of  living  by  want,  or  induced  by  his  fondness 
for  music.  However  this  may  be,  he  continued,  during 
the  remainder  of  his  life,  to  travel  through  the  country 
in  that  character,  mounted  on  a  good  horse,  and  at- 
tended by  a  domestic  who  carried  his  harp,  on  another. 
It  was  during  these  peregrinations  that  Carolan 
composed  all  those  airs,  which  are  still  the  delight  of 
his  countrymen.  He  thought  the  tribute  of  a  song 
due  to  every  house  in  which  he  was  entertained,  and 
he  never  failed  to  pay  it,  choosing  for  his  subject 
either  the  head  of  the  family,  or  one  of  the  loveliest  of 
its  branches. 

A  period  was  now  approaching  when  Carolan's  feel- 
ings were  to  receive  a  violent  shock.  In  the  year 
1733,  the  wife  of  his  bosom  was  torn  from  him  by  the 
hand  of  death.  This  melancholy  event  threw  a  gloom 
over  his  mind,  that  was  never  after  entirely  dissipated. 
As  soon  as  the  transports  of  his  grief  had  a  little  subsi- 
ded, he  composed  a  monody  to  her  memory,  now 
known  by  the  name  of  '^Mary  Maguire,"  of  which  I 
subjoin  a  translation. 

Were  mine  the  choice  of  intellectual  fame, 

Of  skilful  song  and  eloquence  divine, 
Painting's  sweet  power,  philosophy's  pure  flame, 

And  Homer's  lyre,  and  Ossian's  harp  were  mine, — 
The  splendid  arts  of  Erin,  Greece,  and  Rome, 
lu  Mary  lost,  would  lose  their  wonted  grace ; 
All  would  I  give  to  suatch  her  from  the  tomb. 
Again  to  fold  her  in  my  fond  embrace ! 

OF    CAROLAN.  147 

Desponding,  sick,  exhausted  with  my  grief, 

Awhile  the  founts  of  sorrow  cease  to  flow  ; — 
In  vain  I  rest,  and  sleep  brings  no  relief, 

Cheerless,  companionless,  I  wake  to  woe  ! 
Nor  birth,  nor  beauty,  shall  again  allure. 

Nor  fortune  win  me  to  another  bride; 
Alone  I'll  wander,  and  alone  endure. 

Till  death  restore  me  to  my  dear  one's  side. 

Once  every  thought  and  every  scene  was  gay, 

Friends,  mirth,  and  music,  all  my  soul  enjoyed ; 
Now  doom'd  to  mourn  my  last  sad  years  away ; 

My  life  a  solitude,  my  heart  a  void. 
Alas,  the  change  !   to  change  again  no  more. 

For  every  comfort  is  with  Mary  fled ; 
And  ceaseless  anguish  shall  her  loss  deplore. 

Till  age  and  sorrow  join  me  with  the  dead. 

Adieu  !  each  gift  of  nature  and  of  art, 

That  erst  adorn'd  me  in  life's  earliest  prime; 
The  cloudless  temper  and  the  social  heart. 

The  soul  ethereal,  and  the  flight  sublime. 
Thy  loss,  my  Mary,  chased  them  from  my  breast  I 

Thy  sweetness  cheers,  thy  judgement  aids  no  more; 
The  muse  deserts  a  heart  with  grief  opprest, 

And  lost  is  every  joy  that  charm'd  before  ! 

Carolan  did  not  long  continue  in  this  vale  of  sor- 
row, after  the  death  of  his  beloved  wife.  While  on 
a  visit  at  the  house  of  Mrs.  Mc.  Dermott,  of  Alder- 
ford,  in  the  county  of  Roscommon,  he  died,  in  March, 
1738,  in  the  68th  year  of  his  age. 

If  we  reflect  on  the  disadvantages  under  which  he 
laboured,  born  blind,  with  slender  opportunities  of 
acquiring  ideas,  we  cannot  but  be  astonished  at  the 
prodigious  powers  of  his  genius.  He  has  occasionally 
tried  almost  every  style  in  music,  the  elegiac,  the 
festive,  the  amorous,  and  the  sacred ;  and  has  so  much 



excelled  in  each,  that  we  scarcely  know  to  which  of 
them  his  genius  is  hest  adapted. 

In  Carolan's  Concerto,  and  in  his  Madame  Cole, 
the  practitioner  will  perceive  evident  imitations  of 
CoreUi,  in  which  the  exuberant  fancy  of  that  admired 
composer  is  happily  copied.  We  may  form  some 
idea  of  the  fertility  of  his  genius  from  this  circum- 
stance, that  one  harper  who  attended  the  Belfast 
meeting,  who  had  never  either  seen  him  or  been  taught 
directly  by  any  person,  and  who  had  had  no  opportu- 
nity of  copying  from  him,  had  acquired  upwards  of  a 
hundred  of  his  tunes,  which  he  said  constituted  but  a 
very  inconsiderable  part  of  the  real  number. 

It  may  not  be  amiss  if  I  were  to  insert  one  of  his 
poems  in  this  place,  which  I  think  possesses  gi-eat 
merit.  It  is  addressed  to  a  young  lady  of  the  name  of 
Kelly.  In  these  verses  he  describes  his  own  helpless 
situation,  in  language  which  must  affect  the  reader. 


To  thee  harmonious  powers  belong, 
That  add  to  verse  the  charms  of  song, 
Soft  melodies  with  numbers  join. 
And  make  the  poet  half  divine. 

As  when  the  softly  blushing  rose. 
Close  by  some  neighbouring  lily  grows. 
Such  is  the  glow  thy  cheeks  diffuse. 
And  such  their  bright  and  blended  hues  ? 

The  timid  lustre  of  thine  eye, 
With  nature's  purest  tints  can  vie  j 
With  the  sweet  blue  bell's  azure  gem, 
That  droops  upon  the  modest  stem  I 

OF    CAROLAN.  149 

The  poets  of  lerni's  plains 
To  thee  devote  their  choicest  strains ; 
And  oft  their  harps  for  thee  are  strung, 
And  oft  thy  matchless  charms  are  sung. 

Since  the  famed  fair  of  ancient  days, 
Whom  bards  and  worlds  conspired  to  praise, 
Not  one  like  thee  has  since  appeared, 
Like  thee  to  every  heart  endeared. 

How  blest  the  bard,  O  lovely  maid  ! 
To  find  thee  in  thy  charms  arrayed  ; 
Thy  pearly  teeth,  thy  flowing  hair. 
Thy  neck  beyond  the  cygnet  fair. 

Even  he,  whose  hapless  eyes  no  ray 
Admit  from  beauty's  cheering  day ; 
Yet  though  he  cannot  see  the  light, 
He  feels  it  warm,  and  knows  it  bright. 

In  beauty,  talents,  taste  refined, 
And  all  the  graces  of  the  mind, 
In  all,  unmatch'd  thy  charms  remain, 
Nor  meet  a  rival  on  the  plain. 


Walker's  Historical  Memoirs  of  the  Irish  bards.  Vol.  2. 
Miss  Brooke's  relics  of  Irish  poetry,  Dublin  edition,  1802, 
4to. — Introduction  to  Bunting's  Irish  music,  Belfast,  1807. 
Belfast  Magazine,  vol,  3. 


150  THE    LIFE 



Though  train'd  in  boisterous  elements,  his  mind 
Was  yet  by  soft  humanity  refin'd  ; 
Brave,  liberal,  just,  the  calm  domestic  scene 
Had  o'er  his  temper  breath'd  the  gay  serene. 

There  is  no  history  so  useful  to  man,  as  the  history  of 
man;  hence  it  is  that  Biography  is  considered,  not  only 
one  of  the  most  pleasing  sources  of  amusement  to  which 
we  can  turn,  but  it  also  contains  some  of  the  best 
lessons  of  moral  instruction  the  human  mind  can 
contemplate.  In  perusing  the  pages  of  Plutarch,  how 
are  we  struck  with  the  rich  fund  of  intellectual  know- 
ledge, contained  in  the  volumes  of  that  inimitable  au- 
thor 1  But  why  confine  ourselves  to  the  pages  of  an- 
tiquity ?  The  histories  of  all  ages,  and  of  every  country, 
particularly  that  of  our  own,  furnish  many  bright  ex- 
amples worthy  our  special  imitation.  It  is  peculiarly 
pleasing  to  observe,  how  many  individuals  in  the  mid- 
dle and  lower  ranks  of  life,  without  the  advantages  of 
eaijy  education,  have  raised  themselves  to  a  distin- 
guished place  in  society,  by  the  cultivation  of  their  lite- 

OF    RUSHTON.  151 

rary  talents.  Among  these  was  Edward  Rusliton,  of 
Liverpool,  who,  though  he  did  not  attain  to  the  higher 
departments  of  literature,  was  remarkable  for  the 
clearness  and  perspicuity  of  his  style,  and  for  employ- 
ing his  pen  in  the  cause  of  humanity  and  of  truth. 

Rushton  was  born  on  the  eleventh  of  November, 
1755,  in  Livei-pool.  His  education,  which  he  received 
at  a  free  school,  terminated  with  his  ninth  year.  At 
ten,  he  read  Anson's  voyage,  and  resolving  to  be  a 
sailor,  by  the  time  he  entered  his  eleventh  year,  he  was 
a  "sea-boy  on  the  high  and  giddy  mast."  Before 
seventeen,  whilst  yet  in  his  apprenticeship,  he  was 
promoted  to  be  second  mate  of  the  vessel,  which  a  short 
time  before  he  had  entered  as  cabin  boy. 

He  continued  as  second  officer  of  the  vessel  until 
the  term  of  his  apprenticeship  was  expired.  At  this 
period  the  offer  of  a  superior  situation  induced  him  to 
proceed  to  the  coast  of  Africa,  on  a  slaving  voyage. 
When  he  beheld  the  horrors  of  this  disgraceful  traffic, 
he  expressed  his  sentiments  in  very  strong  and  pointed 
language,  with  that  boldness  and  integrity  which 
characterized  his  every  action ;  and,  though  in  a  sub- 
ordinate situation,  he  went  so  far,  that  it  was  thought 
necessary  to  threaten  him  with  the  irons  if  he  did 
not  desist. 

On  this  voyage,  whilst  he  was  at  Dominica,  he 
was  attacked  by  a  violent  inflammation  in  the  eyes, 
which  in  three  weeks  totally  destroyed  his  left  eye,  and 
the  right  one  was  entirely  covered  by  an  opacity  of 
the  cornea.  This  misfortune  was  occasioned  by  his 
exertion  in  assisting  to  relieve  the  necessities  of  his 
sable  brethren,  among  whom  an  infectious  fever  had 
broken  out. 

152  THE   LIFE 

Thus,  in  Lis  nineteenth  year,  he  was  deprived  of 
one  of  the  greatest  blessings  of  nature.  How  much 
he  felt  this  privation,  he  has  beautifully  expressed  in 
the  following  little  poem. 


Ah  !  think,  if  June's  delicious  rays 

The  eye  of  sorrow  can  illume, 

Or  wild  December's  beamless  days 

Can  fling  o'er  all  a  transient  gloom ; 

Ah  !  think,  if  skies,  obscure  or  bright. 

Can  thus  depress  or  cheer  the  mind : 

Ah !  think  'midst  clouds  of  utter  night, 

What  mournful  moments  wait  the  blind ! 

And  who  shall  tell  his  cause  for  woe  ? 
To  love  the  wife  he  ne'er  must  see, 
To  be  a  sire,  yet  not  to  know 
The  silent  babe  that  climbs  his  knee  ! 
To  have  his  feelings  daily  torn 
With  pain,  the  passing  meal  to  find; 
To  live  distress'd,  and  die  forlorn — 
Are  ills  that  oft  await  the  blind  ! 

When  to  the  breezy  upland  led 
At  noon,  or  blushing  eve,  or  morn, 
He  hears  the  red-breast  o'er  his  head, 
While  round  him  breathes  the  scented  thorn. 
But  Oh  !  instead  of  Nature's  face, 
Hills,  dales,  and  woods,  and  streams  combin'd, 
Instead  of  tints,  and  forms,  and  grace, 
Night's  blackest  mantle  shrouds  the  blind. 

If  rosy  youth,  bereft  of  sight, 
'Midst  countless  thousands  pines  unblest. 
As  the  gay  flower  withdrawn  from  light, 
Bows  to  the  earth  where  all  must  rest; 
Ah  !  think,  when  life's  declining  hours 
To  chilling  penury  are  consign'd, 
And  pain  has  palsied  all  his  powers, — 
Ah !  think  what  woes  await  the  blind.] 

OF    RUSIITON.  153 

In  1776,  attended  by  his  father,  he  visited  London, 
and,  amongst  other  eminent  men,  consulted  the  cele- 
brated Baron  Wentzell,  oculist  to  the  ting,  who  de- 
clared him  incurable.  In  this  hopeless  situation,  poor 
Rushton  retunicd  to  Liverpool,  and  resided  with  his 
father,  with  whom  he  continued  but  a  short  period, 
as  the  violent  temper  of  his  step  mother  compelled 
him  to  leave  the  house,  and  maintain  himself  on  four 
shiUings  per  week.  An  old  aunt  gave  him  lodgings, 
and  for  seven  years  he  existed  on  this  miserable,  and 
considering  the  circumstances  of  his  father,  this 
shameful  allowance.  Whilst  subsisting  on  this  sum, 
he  managed  to  pay  a  boy  two  pence  or  three  pence 
per  week,  for  reading  to  him  an  hour  or  two  in  the 

From  this  state  he  was  removed  to  one  much  more 
comfortable.  His  father  placed  him  with  one  of  his 
sisters  in  a  tavern,  where  he  lived  for  about  two  years. 
While  in  this  situation  he  married,  and  finding, 
his  pecuniary  resources  rather  diminishing  than  in- 
creasing, he  gave  up  the  business.  He  then  entered 
into  an  engagement  as  editor  of  a  newspaper  called 
the  ''Herald,"  which,  for  some  time,  he  conducted 
with  much  pleasure  and  little  profit,  until  finding  it 
impossible  to  express  himself  in  that  independent 
and  liberal  manner  which  his  reason  and  his  consci- 
ence dictated,  he  gave  up  his  situation  and  had  to 
begin  the  world  once  more. 

With  a  family  of  five  children  and  very  limited 
means,  Rushton  hesitated  before  he  fixed  on  any  par- 
ticular course  of  life.  He  thought  of  several  plans, 
but  none  seemed  more  agreeable  to  his  taste  than  the 

154'  THE    LIFE 

business  of  a  bookseller,  which  his  habits  and  pur- 
suits combined  to  render  more  eligible  than  any 
other  which  presented  itself  to  his  thoughts.  With 
the  sum  of  thirty  guineas,  he  commenced  bookselHng, 
and  his  excellent  wife,  to  whose  exertions  he  was 
greatly  indebted  laboured  incessantly ;  v.ith  attention 
and  frugality  the  business  succeeded,  and  Rushton 
felt  himself  more  easy  in  his  circumstances. 

As  his  feelings  were  ever  alive  to  the  sufferings  of 
his  fellow  creatures,  it  was  the  same  to  him  by  what 
name  they  were  called,  or  to  what  country  they  be- 
longed; whether  they  were  scorched  by  an  Indian,  or 
by  an  African  sun  !  If  he  conceived  they  were  injured 
or  oppressed,  he  was  ready  always  to  vindicate  their 
wrongs,  with  all  that  zeal  and  abilit}'^  with  which 
providence  had  endowed  him.  It  was  this  love  for 
mankind  that  induced  bim,  in  1797,  to  write  a  letter 
to  Washington,  then  president  of  the  United  States, 
on  the  subject  of  negro  slavery;  to  whom  it  was 
transmitted  in  July,  and  a  few  weeks  afterwards  was 
returned  under  cover,  without  one  syllable  in  reply. 
As  children  who  are  crammed  with  sweetmeats  have 
no  relish  for  plain  and  wholesome  food,  so  men  in 
power,  who  are  seldom  addressed  but  in  the  sweet 
tone  of  adulation,  are  apt  to  be  disgusted  with  the 
plain  and  salutary  language  of  truth ;  to  offend  was 
not  the  intention  of  the  writer,  yet  the  president  was 
evidently  irritated.  To  those  who  are  acquainted  with 
the  philanthropic  exertions  of  Rushton,  which  may 
be  said  to  have  characterized  him  from  his  youth,  and 
to  those  who  have  read  thus  far  in  his  history,  every 
demonstration  of  the  amiable  feelings  which  he  re- 

OF    RUSHTON.  155 

tamed  to  the  last  period  of  his  existence,  will  I  trust 
be  acceptable.     And,  it  must  be  farther  observed  in 
favour  of  Rushton,  that  the  letter  now  in  question 
was  not  the  result  of  any  party  feeling  towards  the 
American  people.    His  political  principles  were  those 
of  a  staunch  republican;  he  venerated  the  name  of 
Washington,  and  not  only  considered  him  one  of  the 
greatest,  but  one  of  the  best  men  that  ever  appeared 
in  the  world  !  He  also  knew  at  the  same  time,  that  he 
was  but  a  human  being,  like  himself,  liable  to  err, 
and  that  Washington  did  err,  is  a  truth  that  none  of 
his  friends  can  deny  ;  all  his  biographers  acknowledge 
that  he  kept  three  hundred  poor  Africans  in  chains, 
and  it  was  this  inconsistency  that  called  forth  Rush- 
ton's  remarks.     Sometime  afterwards  he  also  wTote  to 
Thomas  Paine,  on  the  same  subject,  but  that  pre- 
tended friend  to  mankind,  turned  a  deaf  ear  to  his 

His  life  for  some  years  after  was  but  little  varied,  and 
he  continued  successively  to  publish  poetical  pieces^ 
Among  his  productions  which  appeared  about  this  time, 
was  the  beautiful  poem  of  "Mary  le  More,"  with  several 
others  on  the  same  subject.  In  the  latter  part  of  his 
life,  Rushton  did  not  write  much,  but  those  })oems 
which  he  did  produce  are  excellent.  ''The  fire  of 
English  liberty,"  "  Jemmy  Armstrong,"  and  "Stanzas 
addressed  to  Robert  Sou  they,"  are  all  strongly  in  favour 
of  those  principles  which,  with  fire  unabated,  he 
preserved  till  the  last  moment  of  his  mental  existence. 
During  the  few  last  years  of  his  life,  he  was  occasion- 
ally troubled  with  the  gout,  and  his  health  visibly 
declined;  butunder  all  his  afflictions  he  preserved  his 

156  THE    LIFE 

usual  cheerfulness  and  gaiety  till  the  last,  and  died 
on  the  22nd  of  November,  1814,  aged  58. 

The  works  of  Rushton  are  not  numerous,  but  they 
are  truly  valuable  for  their  moral  excellence.  I  have 
already  observed  that  Rushton  was  not  a  first  rate 
genius,  but,  as  a  man,  he  did  honour  to  the  age  and 
country  in  which  he  lived. 

Rushton's  poetical  pieces  were  not  originally  inten- 
ded for  publication,  but  being  read  and  admired  by 
his  friends,  they  appeared  first  in  the  periodical  jour- 
nals of  the  day,  and  were  afterwards  collected  together 
and  published  in  one  volume,  in  London,  1814.  These, 
with  his  letters  to  General  Washington  and  Thomas 
Paine,  on  the  subject  of  negro  slavery,  are  the  only 
productions  of  his  which  were  given  to  the  public. 

As  a  poet  Edward  Rushton  possessed  considerable 
merit,  and  throughout  all  his  poetry  the  reader  is 
charmed  with  the  display  of  a  rich  and  glowing  imagi- 
nation, pouring  forth  its  manly  conceptions  in  an  ani- 
mated manner,  undisfigured  by  any  affectation  in  senti- 
ment or  language.  In  description,  I  think  the  author 
is  peculiarly  happy;  he  is  a  spirited  delineator,  as  well 
as  a  faithful  observer  of  nature,  and  scenes  which  he 
probably  witnessed  in  early  life,  have  furnished  him 
with  a  rich  store  of  marine  and  tropical  imagery. 

I  think  the  following  lines  on  the  death  of  a  friend 
possess  some  merit. 

"  The  thrush,  from  the  icicled  bough, 
Gives  his  song  to  the  winterly  gale. 
And  the  violet,  'midst  half  melted  snow, 
DifiFuses  its  sweets  through  the  vale — 
And  thus  while  the  minstrel  I  mourn, 
'Mid  the  blasts  of  adversity  pin'd, 

OF    RUSHTON.  157 

While  he  drooped  all  obscure  and  forlorn, 
He  poured  his  wild  sweets  ou  the  wind  ? 

The  first  two  stanzas  of 'The  Lass  of  Liverpool' 
present  a  variety  of  rich  and  lively  images : 
*  Where  cocoas  lift  their  tufted  heads, 

And  orange  blossoms  scent  the  breeze. 
Her  charms  the  wild  Mulatto  spreads, 

And  moves  with  soft  and  wanton  ease. 
And  I  have  seen  her  'witching  wiles. 

And  I  have  kept  my  bosom  cool, 
For  how  could  I  forget  thy  smiles, 

Oh  lovely  lass  of  Liverpool  ? 

The  softest  tints  the  conch  displays, 
The  cheek  of  her  I  love  outvies ; 

And  the  sea  breeze  midst  burning  rays. 
Is  not  more  cheering  than  her  eyes. 

Dark  as  the  pettrel  is  her  hair. 
And  Sam,  who  calls  me  love-sick  fool, 

Ne'er  saw  a  tropic  bird  more  fair, 
Than  my  sweet  lass  of  Liverpool. 

Monthly  Review — Belfast  Magazine — Liverpool  Mercuiy. 

15S  THE    LIFE 


HUGH  JAxMES,    M.D. 


"  Oh  I  lost  and  lamented,  whose  steps  knew  the  door, 
\Vhose  hand  dropt  life's  balm  in  the  wounds  of  the  pooFy 
Tlio'  darkness  came  o'er  thee,  that  darknees  enshrin'd 
Religion's  pure  lamp,  the  strong  light  of  the  mind."' 

Hugh  James,  INI.  D.  3'oungest  son  of  the  Rer. 

John  James,  D.  D.  Rector  of  Arthuret,  and  Kirkan- 
drews,  in  Cumberland,  was  born  at  St.  Bee's  in  the 
same  county,  in  July,  1771.  Having  completed  his 
education,  and  finished  his  medical  studies  in  London 
and  Edinburgh  ;  in  the  spring  of  1796,  he  settled  in 
Whitehaven,  as  a  surgeon.  Two  years  afterwards  he 
had  a  very  severe  illness,  attended  with  excraciating 
pain  in  his  head,  and  violent  inflammation  in  his  eyes, 
which  so  impaired  his  sight,  that  he  was  obliged  to 
give  up  all  ideas  of  practising  as  a  surgeon.  After 
several  years  of  much  suffering,  which  he  bore  with 
exemplary  patience  and   fortitude,  his  sight  was  so 

OF     JAMES.  159 

far  improved  as  to  enable  him,  in  1803,  to  graduate  in 
Edinburgh,  and  then  to  fix  in  Carlisle  as  a  physician. 
Still,  however,  he  was  subject  to  violent  attacks  of  in- 
flammation in  his  eyes,  which  induced  him  several 
times  to  go  to  London,  for  the  purpose  of  consulting 
the  first  oculists  there.  But  the  disease  baffled  all 
their  skill;  and  in  the  winter  of  1806,  his  sight  was 
totally  lost.  But,  notwithstanding  this  great  privation, 
he  pursued  his  profession  even  with  increased  success. 
By  the  eye,  it  is  true,  the  physician  learns  the  atti- 
tude of  his  patient,  the  expression  of  the  countenance, 
the  state  of  the  tongue,  and  the  colour  of  the  skin ; 
and  these  signs  often  indicate  the  nature  of  the  disor- 
der. How,  then,  can  a  blind  man  be  a  good  physi- 
cian ?  A  blind  ])hysician  can  acquire  a  tolerable 
knowledge  of  all  these  signs,  with  the  exception  of 
the  colour  of  the  skin,  by  the  sense  of  touch  ;  and  this 
sense  being  in  him  more  acute  and  refined,  he  is 
perhaps  able  to  judge  more  correctly  of  the  state  and 
condition  of  the  skin,  which  is  considered  a  matter  of 
great  importance  in  the  practice  of  the  profession. 
External  diseases,  particularly  cutaneous  diseases, 
are  seldom  attended  with  danger,  and  are  chiefly  dis- 
tinguished by  the  eye,  internal  complaints,  on  the 
other  hand,  which  are  very  numerous  and  more  dan- 
gerous, are  frequently  discovered  by  the  sense  of 
feeling;  a  blind  physician  has  the  advantage  of  a  more 
acute  sense  of  feeling,  and  is  able  to  form  a  very  cor- 
rect opinion  of  the  seat  and  nature  of  these  complaints 
Dr.  James  practised  in  Carlisle  many  years,  du- 
ring which,  his  skill  was  manifested  on  many  import- 
ant occasions.  But,  however  important  the  station 

160  THE    LIFE 

he  occupied  in  society,  the  grand  sphere  of  his  use- 
fulness, was  in  his  capacity  of  physician.  Disregard- 
ing personal  emolument,  he  was  ever  as  ready  to  hasten 
to  the  relief  of  the  poor  as  to  the  rich,  and  thousands 
can  testify  how  carefully,  how  anxiously,  he  enquired 
into  their  maladies  and  necessities  ;  and  how  readily 
relief  followed  his  knowledge  of  distress ;  and  if  his 
patients  were  unable  to  go  to  him,  no  sooner  was  the 
intimation  given,  than  they  found  him  at  their  bed- 
side. It  was  in  his  attendance  on  a  poor  patient,  that 
he  contracted  the  malignant  distemper  which  termi- 
nated his  valuable  life  in  a  few  days.  A  monument 
was  erected  to  his  memory  by  his  fellow  citizens  with 
the  following  inscription. 

**To  the  memory  of  Hugh  James,  M.  D.  who  prac- 
tised physic  with  eminent  skill,  for  many  years,  in 
this  city.  Providence  largely  recompensed  the  loss  of 
sio-ht  in  early  life,  with  talents  which  raised  him  to 
distinguished  reputation  in  his  profession,  and  more 
abundantly  blessed  him  with  a  disposition  ever  prompt 
to  succour  poverty  and  pain.  The  study  of  his  art, 
which  shewed  him  the  weakness  and  uncertainty  of 
life,  taught  him  to  meditate  deeply  on  the  works  of 
God,  and  animated  his  faith  in  a  merciful  Redeemer. 

He  died  the  20th  of  September,  1817,  in  the  45th 
year  of  his  age,  and  was  interred  in  the  parish  church 
of  Arthuret  in  this  county." 


The  Carlisle  Patriot  for  27th  September,  1817. 

OF    LUCAS.  161 



*'  Ana  as  a  bird  each  fond  endeai-ment  tries. 
To  tempt  its  new  fledged  otTsprin^  to  the  skies, 
He  tried  each  art,  reproved  each  dull  delav, 
Allured  to  brighter  worlds,  and  led  the  way." 

There  is  no  period  of  our  history,  that  has  pro- 
duced such  a  iiumher  of  polemic  writers,  as  appeared 
in  the  1 7th  century.  A  mong  the  burning  and  shining 
lights  of  those  spirit  stirring  times,  lived  Richard 
Lucas.  This  eminent  divine  was  of  Welsh  extraction, 
the  son  of  INIr.  Richard  Lucas,  of  Presteign,  in  Rad- 
norshire, and  was  born  in  that  county,  in  the  year 
1648.  After  a  proper  foundation  of  school  learning, 
he  was  sent  to  Oxford,  and  entered  a  student  of  Jesus 
College,  in  1664.  Having  taken  both  his  degrees  in 
arts,  he  entered  into  holy  orders,  about  the  year  1672; 
and  was  afterwards  master  of  the  free  school  at  Aber- 
gavenny ;  but  being  much  esteemed  for  his  talents 
in  the  pulpit,  he  was  chosen  vicar  of  St.  Stephen's, 
Coleman-street,  London,  and  lecturer  of  St.  Olave, 
South wark,  in  1683.  His  sight  began  to  fail  him  in 
his  youth,  but  he  lost  it  totally  about  this  time.  This 

162  THE    LIFE 

melancholy  catastrophe  is  alluded  to  by  the  author 
himself,  in  his  preface  to  the  first  volume  of  his 
"Treatise  on  Happiness."  In  these  pages  he  has  des- 
cribed his  helpless  condition,  in  language  which 
must  affect  the  reader  even  to  tears ;  and  he  gives 
the  names  of  a  number  of  distinguished  individuals, 
who  had  laboured  under  the  same  afHiction.  He 
concludes  by  observing,  that  he  was  not  equal  to  the 
least  of  those  worthies  in  fame,  but,  that  he  was  equal 
to  the  greatest  in  misfortune.  And  it  may  be  here 
remarked,  that  the  greater  part  of  his  valuable  works 
were  composed  after  he  lost  his  sight ;  and,  therefore, 
he  is  entitled  to  a  place  in  this  collection.  This  emi- 
nent christian,  in  alluding  to  his  loss  of  sight,  proceeds 
with  the  following  pious  remarks.  "It  has  pleased 
God,  that  in  a  few  years  I  should  finish  the  more  plea- 
sant and  delightful  part  of  life,  if  sense  were  to  be  the 
judge  and  standard  of  pleasure,  being  confined,  (I  will 
not  say  condemned)  to  retirement,  and  solitude.  In 
this  state,  conversation  has  lost  much  of  its  former  air 
and  briskness ;  study,  which  is  the  only  employ- 
ment left  me,  is  clogged  with  this  weight  and  in- 
cumbrance, that  all  the  assistance  I  can  receive  from 
without,  must  be  conveyed  by  another's  sense,  not  my 
own ;  which,  it  may  easily  be  believed,  are  instru- 
ments, or  organs,  as  ill  fitted  and  awkwardly  managed 
by  me,  as  wooden  legs  and  hands,  by  the  maimed. 
Should  I  ambitiously  affect  to  have  my  na:  -t  march 
in  the  train  of  those,  although  not  all  equL  ily  great 
ones.  Homer,  Appius,  Aufidius,  Didymus,  Walkup, 
Pare,  Jean  C.  Aveugle,  ike.  all  of  them  eminent 
for  their  service  and   usefulness,  as  well  as  for  their 

OF   LUCAS.  163 

affliction,  of  the  same  kind  with  mine;  even  this  might 
seem  almost  a  commendable  infirmity;  for  the  last 
thing  a  mind  truly  great  and  philosophical  puts  off,  is, 
the  desire  of  glory.  But  the  truth  is  plainly  this,  the 
vigour  and  activity  of  my  mind,  the  health  and 
strength  of  my  body,  (being  now  in  the  flower  of  my 
age,)  continuing  unbroken  under  this  affliction,  I 
found,  that  if  I  did  not  discover  some  employment 
that  might  entertain  it,  it  would  weary  out  itself  with 
fruitless  desires  of,  and  vain  attempts  after,  its  wonted 
objects.  That  the  life  of  man  is  to  be  esteemed  by  its 
usefulness  and  serviceableness  in  the  world,  a  sober 
reflection  upon  this,  wrought  me  up  to  a  resolution, 
strong  enough  to  contemn  all  the  difficulties  the  loss 
of  my  sight  could  represent  to  me,  in  an  enterprize 
of  this  nature.  Thus  you  see  on  what  principles  £  be- 
came engaged  in  this  work  ;  I  thought  it  my  duty  to 
set  myself  some  task,  which  might  serve  at  once  to 
divert  my  thoughts  from  a  melancholy  application 
on  my  misfortune;  and  entertain  my  mind  with  such 
a  rational  employment  as  might  render  me  most  easy 
to  myself,  and  most  serviceable  to  the  world."  Not- 
withstanding this  great  privation,  Mr.  Lucas  continued 
to  discharge  the  duties  of  his  holy  calling,  with  a  zeal 
and  fidelity  that  would  have  done  him  credit,  even  if  he 
had  possessed  all  his  bodily  powers  in  the  highest  per- 
fection. His  learning,  his  talents,  and  his  misfortunes, 
procured  for  him  the  patronage  of  some  of  the  leading 
men'of  the  times,  who  were  anxious  to  reward  such 
uncommon  merit.  He  took  the  degree  of  doctor  in 
divinity,  and  was  installed  prebendary  of  Westmin- 
ster, in  1696.     He  died  in  June.  1715,  and  was  in- 

164  THE    LITE 

terred  in  Wes  tminster  Abbey,  but  no  stone  or  monu- 
ment marks  his  grave.  He  was  gTeatly  esteemed  for  his 
piety,  and  learning,  and  his  writings  will  preserve  his 
fame.  He  wrote  "  A  Treatise  on  Practical  Christiani- 
ty ;"  ''An  Enquiry  after  Happiness ;"  "  The  Morality 
of  the  Gospel;"  "  Christian  Thoughts  for  every  Day  of 
the  Week  ;"  "  A  Guide  to  Heaven ;"  ''  The  Duty  of 
Servants;"  and  *'  Sermons  ;"  in  five  volumes.  He  also 
made  a  Latin  translation  of  the  "  \Yhole  duty  of  man," 
which  was  published  in  1680.  He  left  a  son  of  his 
own  name,  who  was  bred  at  Sydney  College,  Cam- 
bridge, where  he  took  his  Master  of  Arts  degree,  and 
published  some  of  his  father's  sennons.  Of  Dr.  Lucas, 
Mr,  Orton,  has  given  the  following  character  from 
Dr.  Doddridge's  MSS. 

''His  style  is  very  peculiar,  sometimes  exceedingly 
fine,  nearly  approaching  to  conversation ;  sometimes 
grand  and  sublime  ;  generally  very  expressive.  His 
method  not  clear,  but  his  thoughts  excellent ;  many 
are  taken  from  attentive  observation  of  life;  he  wrote, 
as  entirely  devoted  to  God,  and  superior  to  the  world. 
His  "  Practical  Christianity,"  is  most  valuable,  and 
also  his  "  Enquiry  after  Happiness,"  especially  the 
second  volume."  Orton  speaks  of  reading  the  latter 
work  a  sixth  time.  The  pious  INIr.  Hervey,  in  speak- 
ing of  this  work  says,  "May  I  be  permitted  to  recom- 
mend as  a  treasure  of  inestimable  value,  and  a  treatise 
particularly  applicable  to  my  subject,  "  Dr.  Lucas's 
Enquiry  after  Haj^piness ;"  that  part,  especially, 
which  displays  the  method,  and  enumerates  the  advan- 
tages of  improving  life,  or  living  much  in  a  little 
time;  chapter  IH.  page  158  of  the  6th  edition. — An 

OF    LUCAS.  165 

author,  in  whom,  the  gentleman,  the  scholar,  and  the 
christian,  are  most  happily  united ;  a  performance, 
which  in  point  of  solid  argument,  unaffected  piety, 
and  a  vein  of  thought  amazingly  fertile,  has,  perhaps, 
no  superior.  Nor  can  I  wish  my  reader  a  more  refi- 
ned pleasure,  or  a  more  substantial  happiness,  than 
that  of  having  the  sentiments  of  this  entertaining  and 
pathetic  writer,  woven  into  the  very  texture  of  his 

The  treatise  on  "  Practical  Christianity,"  is  earnestly 
recommended  also,  by  Sir  Richard  Steele,  in  the 
Guardian,  No.  LXIII. 

To  these  great  names,  I  must  add  that  of  the  Rev. 
John  Wesley,  who  warmly  recommends  the  Treatise 
on  happiness,  to  his  people,  as  one  of  the  most  valuable 
books  a  christian  can  read.  I  will  close  this  imper- 
fect sketch  of  Dr.  Lucas's  life,  by  one  short  quotation 
from  his  inimitable  work.  In  this  passage  will  be 
seen,  how  much  this  gTeat  and  good  man  felt,  under 
this  greatest  of  all  privations,  the  loss  of  his  sight. 

'*  I  am  sensible  that  these  heads  of  remark  occur 
often ;  and  though  it  be  under  different  aspects,  yet, 
'tis  possible  that  I  may  sometimes  light  upon  the  same 
thoughts,  nay,  peradventure  the  very  same  words ; 
'tis  against  my  will  if  I  do  ;  hut  I  want  sight,  to  re- 
vise my  papers,  and  am  glad  to  disburden  my  mem- 
ory as  fast  as  I  can;  and  therefore  charge  it  with 
nothing  that  I  have  once  entrusted  to  writing  ;  and 
the  toil  of  recollecting  my  thoughts,  scattered  up  and 
down  like  Sybils  oracles  in  dispersed  leaves,  by  a  hand 
which  'tis  impossible  for  me  to  direct,  or  animate,  is 

166  THE    LIFE 

most  intolerable  ;  if  therefore,  I  slip  into  any  eiTor  of 
this  kind  I  cannot  but  presume  of  pardon,  having  so 
just  an  excuse." 


Lucas  upon  Happiness,  Vol.    1. — Chalmers's  Biographical 
Dictionary,  Vol.  20. — Hervey's  Meditations. 

OF    MOYES.  167 



"  Wht^n  but  a  stripling,  with  fond  alarms, 

His  bosom  danced  to  Nature's  boundless  charms.' 

Among  the  many  illustrious  characters  whose 
names  adora  the  pages  of  British  Biography,  Dr. 
Henry  Moyes  claims  our  particular  attention;  his 
virtues,  his  genius,  and  his  scientific  acquirements, 
have  heen  the  admiration  of  every  country  which  he 
has  visited.  This  distinguished  individual  was  born 
at  Kirkaldy,  in  Fifeshire,  and  lost  his  sight  by  the 
small-pox,  before  he  was  three  years  old,  so  that  he 
scarcely  retained  in  after  life,  any  recollection  of  hav- 
ing ever  seen  ;  he  used  however  to  say  that  he  re- 
membered having  once  observed  a  water-mill  in  mo- 
tion, and  it  is  characteristic  of  the  tendencies  of  his 
mind,  that  even  at  that  early  age,  his  attention  was 
attracted  by  the  circumstance  of  the  water  flowing  in 
one  direction,  while  the  wheel  turned  round  in  the 
other,  a  mystery  on  which  he  reflected  for  some  time 
before  he  could  comprehend  it.  Although  blind  he 
distinguished  himself,  when  a  boy,  by  his  proficiencv 
in  all  the  usual  branches  of  a  literary  education ;  but 

168  THE    LIFE 

mechanical  exercises  were  especially  the  favourite 
employments  of  his  infant  years.  From  this  period, 
till  the  time  of  his  leaving  college,  we  have  no  infor- 
mation respecting  him.  He  commenced  a  series  of 
lectures  on  the  theory  and  practice  of  music,  at  Edin- 
burgh, hut  not  meeting  with  that  encouragement 
which  he  expected,  he  relinquished  this  design.  He 
next  turned  his  attention  to  a  subject  which  was  more 
congenial  to  his  taste,  namely,  to  natural  and  experi- 
mental philosophy  which  presented  an  extensive  field 
for  the  exercise  of  his  talents.  He  was  the  first  blind 
man  who  had  proposed  to  lecture  on  chemistry,  and 
as  a  lecturer,  he  acquired  great  reputation ;  his  ad- 
dress was  easy  and  pleasing,  his  language  correct, 
and  he  performed  his  experiments  in  a  manner  which 
always  gave  great  pleasure  to  his  auditors. 

He  left  Scotland  in  1779,  and  travelled  into  Eng- 
land, where  he  was  well  received,  and  his  audience 
was  generally  composed  of  the  most  respectable  people 
in  the  towns  through  which  he  passed.  Being  of  a 
restless  disposition,  and  fond  of  travelling,  he,  in 
1785,  visited  America.  In  the  summer  of  that  year, 
he  made  a  tour  of  the  Union,  and  conversed  with 
such  men  as  were  distinguished,  either  for  their  learn- 
ing or  love  of  science.  The  following  paragraph  res- 
pecting him,  appeared  in  one  of  the  American  news- 
papers of  that  day :  "the  celebrated  Dr.  Moyes,  though 
blind,  delivered  a  lecture  upon  optics,  in  which  he 
delineated  the  properties  of  light  and  shade,  and  also 
gave  an  astonishing  illustration  of  the  power  of  touch. 
A  highly  polished  plate  of  steel  was  presented  to  him 
with  the  stroke  of  an  etching  tool  so  minutely  engra- 

OF    MOYES.  169 

ved  on  it,  that  it  was  invisible  to  the  naked  eye,  and 
only  discoverable  by  a  powerful  magnifying  glass ; 
with  his  fingers,  however,  lie  discovered  the  extent, 
and  measured  the  length  of  the  line.  Dr.  Moyes  in- 
foiTned  us,  that  being  overturned  in  a  stage  coach,  one 
dark  rain}'  evening,  in  England,  and  the  carnage  and 
four  horses  thrown  into  a  ditch,  the  passengers  and 
driver,  with  two  eyes  a-piece,  were  obliged  to  apply  to 
him  who  had  no  eyes,  for  assistance  in  extricating 
the  horses.  "As  for  me,"  said  he,  "  after  I  had  re- 
covered from  the  astonishment  of  the  fall,  and  discov- 
ered that  I  had  escaped  unhurt,  I  was  quite  at  home 
in  the  dark  ditch.  The  inversion  of  the  order  of 
things  was  amusing ;  I,  that  was  obliged  to  be  led 
about  like  a  child,  in  the  glaring  sun,  was  now  direct- 
ing eight  persons  to  pull  here,  and  haul  there,  with 
all  the  dexterity  and  activity  of  a  man-of-war's  boat- 

On  his  return  from  America,  he  took  a  house  in 
Edinburgh,  where  he  resided  for  some  time,  beloved 
and  admired,  not  only  by  his  countrymen,  but  also 
by  strangers,  who  resorted  to  that  ancient  metropolis. 
But  he  had  not  yet  finished  his  travels ;  before  his 
American  expedition,  he  had  formed  the  design  of 
going  over  to  Ireland,  and  when  he  returned,  he  de- 
termined to  carry  his  favourite  project  into  execution, 
and  accordingly,  in  1790,  he  crossed  the  Channel, 
and  arrived  in  Belfast.  He  visited  all  the  principal 
towns  in  the  island,  and  he  was  every  where  received 
with  that  respect  which  was  due  to  his  great  merit. 
He  remained  a  few  months  in  Dublin,  where  he  was 
visited  by  some  of  the  most  respectable  individuals  in 

170  THE    LIFE 

that  metropolis.  Among  his  Irish  friends  was  the  in- 
genious Mr.  Kirwan,  of  Dublin,  a  name  well  known 
in  the  scientific  world,  and  between  these  two  great 
ra^n  a  friendship  commenced,  which  only  ended  with 
their  lives.  Dr.  Moyes  was  highly  gratified  with  his 
journey  through  Ireland ;  the  hospitable  manner  in 
which  he  was  every  where  received,  and  the  kindness 
he  experienced,  were  the  constant  theme  of  his  eulo- 

He  finally  took  up  his  residence  at  Manchester, 
where  he  determined  to  spend  the  remainder  of  his 
life.  He  was  here  in  his  native  element,  or  to  use  his 
own  words,  ''quite  at  home."  In  one  of  the  most  en- 
lightened neighbourhoods  in  the  empire,  surrounded 
by  a  circle  of  chosen  friends,  distinguished  by  their 
taste,  their  talents,  and  their  love  of  science;  and 
with  access  to  the  numerous  and  well  selected  libraries, 
it  was  no  wonder,  that  these  advantages  induced  Dr. 
Moyes  to  prefer  Manchester  to  any  other  place  he 
had  been  in.  He  was  elected  a  member  of  the  Man- 
chester Philosophical  Society,  and  enriched  its  collec- 
tion by  several  valuable  papers  on  chemistry,  as  well 
as  the  other  branches  of  physical  science.  The  follow- 
ing particulars  of  our  philosopher's  character,  come 
from  the  pen  of  Dr.  Bew. 

''Dr.  Henry  Moyes,  who  occasionally  read  lectures 
on  philosophical  chemistry  at  Manchester,  lost  his 
sight  by  the  small  pox  in  early  infancy,  and  had  no 
recollection  of  external  objects,  except  some  confused 
ideas  of  the  heavenly  bodies.  He  had  the  good  for- 
tune to  be  born  in  a  country  where  learning  of  every 

OF    MOYES.  171 

kind  is  highly  cultivated,  and  to  be  brought  up  in  a 
family  devoted   to  literature.      Possessed   of  native 
genius,  and   ardent  in   his   application  to  study,  he 
made  rapid  advances  in  various  departments  of  know- 
ledge.    He  not  only  acquired  the  fundamental  princi- 
ples of  mechanics,   music,    and  the  languages,   but 
likewise  entered   deeply  into  the  investigation  of  the 
profounder  sciences,  and  obtained  a  general  knowledge 
of  geometry,  optics,  algebra,  astronomy,  chemistry, 
and,  in  short,  most  of  the  branches  of  the  Newtonian 
philosophy.  At  a  very  early  age,  he  made  himself  ac- 
quainted with  the  use  of  edge  tools  so  perfectly,   that, 
notwithstanding  his  entire  blindness,  he  was  able  to 
make  little  wind-mills;  and  he  even  constructed  a  loom 
with  his  own  hands,  which  still  show  the  marks  of 
wounds  he  received  in  the  execution  of  these  juve- 
nile exploits.      By  a  most  agreeable  intimacy,  and 
the  frequent  intercourse  which  I  enjoyed  with  this 
accomplished  blind  gentleman,  whilst  he  resided  at 
Manchester,  I  had  an  opportunity  of  repeatedly  ob- 
serving the  peculiar  manner  in  which  he  arranged  his 
ideas,  and  acquired  his  information.     Whenever  he 
was  introduced  into  company,  I  remarked   that  he 
continued  for  some   time   silent.     The  sound  of  the 
different  voices  enabled  him  to  judge  of  the  dimen- 
sions of  the  room,  and  of  the  number  of  persons  that 
were  present;  his  discrimination  in  these  respects  was 
very  accurate,  and  his  memory  so  retentive,  that  be 
was  seldom  mistaken.     I  have  known  him  instantly 
recognize  a  person  on  first  hearing  him  speak,  though 
more  than  two  years  had  elapsed  since  the  time  of 


172  THE    LIFE 

their  last  meeting.*  He  determined  pretty  nearly 
the  stature  of  those  he  was  speaking  with,  by  the  di- 
rection of  their  voices  ;  and  he  made  tolerable  conjec- 
tures respecting  their  temper  and  dispositions,  by  the 
manner  in  which  they  conducted  their  conversation. 
It  must  be  observed,  that  this  gentleman's  eyes  were 
not  totally  insensible  to  intense  light,  as  the  rays  re- 
fracted through  a  prism,  when  sufficiently  vivid,  pro- 
duced c^ertain  perceptible  effects  on  them.  The  red 
gave  him  a  disagreeable  sensation,  which  he  compared 
to  the  touch  of  a  saw ;  as  the  colours  declined  in  in- 
tensity, the  harshness  lessened,  until  the  green  afford- 
ed a  sensation  that  was  highly  pleasing  to  him,  and 
which  he  described  as  conveying  an  idea,  similar  to 
what  he  felt  in  running  his  hand  over  polished  surfa- 
ces. Polished  surfaces,  meandering  streams,  and  gen- 
tle declivities,  were  the  figures  by  which  he  expressed 
his  ideas  of  beauty ;  rugged  rocks,  irregular  points, 
and  boisterous  elements,  furnished  him  with  expres- 
sions for  terror  and  disgust.     He  excelled   in   the 

*"  Moyes  possessed  all  that  extreme  delicacy  in  the  senses 
of  touch  and  hearing,  for  which  the  blind  have  usually  been 
remarkable.  We  have  been  told,  that  having  been  one  day 
accosted  in  the  street  by  a  young  friend,  whom  he  had  not 
met  with  for  several  years,  his  instant  remark,  on  hearing  his 
voice,  was,  "  how  much  taller  you  have  grown  since  we  last 
met !"  He  contrived  for  himself  a  system  of  palpable  arithme- 
tic, on  a  different  principle  from  that  of  Saunderson,  and 
possessing  the  advantage  in  point  of  neatness  and  simplicity. 
Dr.  Moyes  must  have  been  a  person  of  extraordinary  mental 
endowments,  and  certainly  aftbrds  us,  next  to  Saunderson,  the 
most  striking  example  on  record,  of  attainments  in  the  mathe- 
matics, made  without  any  assistance  from  the  eye." 

OF   MOYES.  173 

charms  of  conversation ;  was  happy  in  his  allusions 
to  visual  objects  ;  and  discoursed  on  the  nature,  com- 
position, and  beauty  of  colours,  with  pertinence  and 

"  Dr.  Moyes  was  a  striking  instance  of  the  power 
the  human  soul  possesses  of  finding  sources  of  en- 
joyment, even  under  the  most  rigorous  calamities. 
Though  involved  in  ever-during  darkness,  and  exclu- 
ded from  the  charming  view  of  silent,  or  of  animated 
nature ;  though  dependent  upon  an  undertaking,  the 
success  of  which  was  very  precarious,  for  the  means 
of  his  subsistence  ;  in  short,  though  destitute  of  other 
support  than  his  genius ;  still.  Dr.  Moyes  was  gene- 
rally cheerful,  and  apparently  happy.  Indeed,  it  must 
afford  much  pleasure  to  the  feeling  heart,  to  observe 
that  this  hilarity  of  temper  prevails  almost  universally 
with  the  blind.  Though  cut  off  from  the  cheerful 
ways  of  men,  and  the  contemplation  of  the  human 
face  divine,  they  have  this  consolation,  they  are  ex- 
empt from  the  discernment  and  influence  of  those 
painful  emotions  of  the  soul,  that  are  often  visible  on 
the  countenance,  and  which  hypocrisy  itself  cannot 
conceal.  This  cheerfulness  of  disposition,  likewise, 
may  be  considered  as  an  internal  evidence  of  the  na- 
tive worth  of  the  human  mind,  that  thus  supports  its 
dignity  and  cheerfulness,  under  one  of  the  severest 
calamities  that  can  possibly  befall  us." 

This  extraordinary  man,  after  a  life  of  fifty-seven 
years  spent  in  learaed  labours,  paid  the  debt  of  na- 
ture, August  10th,  1807.  As  he  never  entered  into 
the  maiTied  state,  he  was  enabled  by  prudence  and 
economy  to  amass  a  considerable  sum,  which  he  be- 

174  THE    LIFE 

queathed  to  his  brother.  In  his  manner  of  living 
he  was  abstemious,  as  he  was  entirely  unacquainted 
with  the  use  of  ardent  spirits,  or  fermented  liquors. 
He  had  a  natural  dislike  to  animal  food  of  every  des- 
cription, and  consequently  his  meals  were  plain  and 
simple.  He  was  very  partial  to  a  sea-weed,  well 
known  by  the  name  of  dulse ;  this  he  would  boil,  and 
dress  with  a  little  butter,  which,  with  a  crust  of 
bread,  and  a  draught  of  spring  water,  was  the  only 
luxury  in  which  he  indulged.  Well  might  Dr.  Moyes 
say  with  Goldsmith's  hermit; 

"No  flocks  that  range  the  valley  free. 

To  slaughter  I  condema; 
Taught  by  that  power  which  pities  me, 

I  learn  to  pity  them. 
But  from  the  mountain's  grassy  side, 

A  guiltless  feast  I  bring; 
A  scrip  with  herbs  and  fruits  supplied, 

And  water  from  the  spring." 


Transactions  of  the  Manchester  Philosophical  Society — 
Encyclopaedia  Britannica — Select  Anecdotes,  vol.  the  2nd. 

OF    STANLEY.  175 



"  For  music's  voice  the  icy  bosom  warms, 
Strings  the  lax  nerve,  and  fires  the  weak  to  arms." 

The  English,  it  is  said,  have  no  national  music  ; 
but  yet,  they  are  by  no  means  unacquainted  with  the 
principles  of  that  delightful  science.  Many  of  our 
composers,  as  well  as  performers,  have  been  men  of 
acknowledged  talents ;  and  their  compositions  would 
bear  comparison  with  some  of  the  productions  of  the 
first  masters,  of  either  the  German  or  Italian  schools. 
John  Stanley,  whose  life  we  are  next  to  consider,  was 
a  prodigy  in  his  day  :  as  a  composer,  few  could  equal 
him,  and  as  a  performer,  he  had  perhaps  no  superior. 
Such  was  the  opinion  of  two  most  distinguished 
foreigners,  at  that  time  in  England,  (Handel  and 
Gazzini,)  men,  whose  distinguished  musical  genius 
well  qualified  them  to  judge  of  the  merits  of  Mr. 
Stanley's  performances. 

John  Stanley  was  born  in  1713.  At  two  years  of 
age,  he  totally  lost  his  sight,  by  falling  on  a  marble 
hearth,  with  a  china  basin  in  his  hand.  At  the  age 
of  seven  he  first  began  to  learn  music,  as  an  art  that 

176  THE    LIFE 

was  likely  to  amuse  h:  -^^ ;  but  without  his  friends  sup- 
posing it  possible  for  him,  circumstanced  as  he  was, 
to  make  it  his  profession.  His  first  master  was  Read- 
ing, a  scholar  of  Dr.  Blow's,  and  organist  of  Hackney; 
but  his  father,  finding  that  he  had  not  only  received 
great  jDleasure  in  music,  but  had  made  a  rapid  pro- 
gress, placed  him  with  Dr.  Green,  under  whom  he 
studied  with  great  diligence,  and  a  success  that  was 
astonishing.*    At  eleven  years  of  age,  he  obtained  the 

*  The  influence  of  music  is  still  more  generally  to  be  ob- 
served than  that  of  poetry.  Music,  almost  without  exception, 
appears  to  be  the  favourite  amusement  of  the  blind.  There 
is  no  other  employment,  religious  contemplation  excepted, 
that  seems  so  well  adapted  to  soothe  the  soul,  and  dissipate 
the  melancholy  ideas  which,  it  may  naturally  be  expected, 
will  sometimes  pervade  the  minds  of  those  who  are  utterly 
bereft  of  sight;  this,  together  with  the  beneficial  influence 
that  results  from  the  practice  of  this  delightful  art,  by 
quickening  and  perfecting  the  sense  of  hearing,  is  a  matter 
that  deserves  the  most  serious  attention.  The  celebrated  pro- 
fessor just  now  mentioned,  excelled  in  performing  on  the 
flute,  in  his  youth ;  and  the  refinement  of  his  ear  has  been 
very  justly  attributed  to  his  early  attention  to  music.  It  is 
not,  therefore,  surprising,  that  so  many  blind  people  have  dis- 
tinguished themselves  in  this  science.  Stanley  and  Parry  were 
deprived  of  their  sight  in  earl)"^  infancy  ;  yet  both  these  gen- 
tlemen have  displayed  extraordinary  proofs  of  their  abilities, 
not  only  as  composers  and  performers  of  music,  but  likewise  in 
matters  that,  at  a  first  view,  we  might  be  apt  to  consider,  as 
peculiar  to  those  who  are  fully  possessed  of  the  faculty  of  vi- 
sion. Their  separate  reputations,  as  musicians,  are  sufficiently 
known  and  acknowledged.  The  style  of  Stanley  is  truly  his 
own,  and  his  execution  on  the  organ  equal,  if  not  superior,  to 
any  of  his  contemporary  performers  on  that  grand  instrument ; 

OF    STANLEY.  177 

place  of  organist  of  All-Hallow's,  Bread-street ;  and 
in  1726,  at  the  age  of  thirteen,  was  elected  organist 
of  St.  Andrew's,  Holborn,  in  preference  to  a  great 
number  of  candidates.  In  1734,  the  Benchers  of  the 
Honorable  Society  of  the  Inner  Temple,  elected  him 
one  of  their  organists.  The  two  latter  places  he  re- 
tained till  the  lime  of  his  death.  Few  professors  have 
spent  a  more  active  life,  in  every  branch  of  their  art, 
than  this  extraordinary  musician  ;  having  been  not 
only  a  most  neat,  pleasing,  and  accurate  performer, 
but  a  natural  and  agreeable  composer,  and  an  intelli- 
gent teacher.  He  was  the  conductor  and  soul  of  the 
concerts  in  the  City,  at  the  Swan  and  Castle,  as  long 
as  they  existed.  Upon  the  death  of  Handel,  he  and 
Mr.  Smith  undertook  to  superintend  the  perfoimance 
of  the  oratorios  during  Lent ;  and  after  Mr.  Smith 
retired,  he  carried  them  on,  in  conjunction  with  Mr. 
Lindley,  till  within  two  years  of  his  death,  which  took 
place  on  the  19th  of  May,  in  1786.  His  remains 
were  interred  on  the  evening  of  the  27th,  the  follow- 
ing Sunday,  in  the  new  burial  ground  of  St.  Andrew's. 
Instead  of  the  usual  voluntary,  a  solemn  dirge,  and 
after  service,  "i  know  that  my  Redeemer  liveth,"  vfere, 
with  great  propriety,  given  upon  that  organ  at  which 
Mr.  Stanley  had  for  so  many  years  presided.  This 
ingenious  and  worthy  professor,  whose  blindness  ex- 

and  Parrj'  may  be  revered  as  the  British  bard  of  modem  times. 
The  halls  of  the  Cambrian  chief  resound  with  the  melodious 
vibration  of  his  harp,  and  he  has  united  the  refinements  of 
taste  and  elegance,  to  the  rude,  but  expressive  modulation  at 

178  THE    LIFE 

cited  the  pity,*  and  his  performance,  the  admiration 
of  the  public  for  so  many  years,  was  long  lamented  by 
his  surviving  friends  ;  for  they  lost  in  him,  exclusive 
of  his  musical  talents,  a  most  intelligent  and  agreea- 
ble companion,  who  contributed  to  the  pleasures  of 
society,  as  much  by  his  conversation  in  private,  as  by 
his  professional  merit  in  public.  He  was  succeeded  in 
his  office,  as  master  of  the  King's  Band,  by  Sir 
William  Parsons. 

Besides  various  compositions  for  the  organ,  he  was 
the  author  of  two  oratorios  ;  Jephtha,  which  was  writ- 

*  Amongst  the  various  calamities  to  which  the  human  spe- 
cies are  subjected,  there  are  none  that  excite  compassion,  or 
call  forth  our  benevolent  aid,  more  powerfully  than  blindness. 
The  blind  man,  in  all  ages  and  countries,  has  ever  been  allow- 
ed an  indisputable  claim  on  the  good  offices  of  his  fellow  crea- 
tures ;  his  necessities  have  generally  been  supplied,  with  sacred 
care,  and  his  genius,  if  it  approached  to  excellence,  has  been 
respected  with  a  degree  of  reverence,  superior  to  what  is  usu- 
ally bestowed  on  such  as  are  possessed  of  the  faculty  of  sight. 
We  not  only  find  our  gratitude  for  superior  advantages  wanned 
and  elevated  to  piety  and  devotion,  but  are  likewise  conscious 
of  an  involuntary  impulse,  that  urges  us  to  exert  our  endea- 
vours to  assist  such  as  are  unfortunately  deprived  of  this  no- 
ble faculty,  whenever  they  are  presented  to  our  notice.  And 
here,  again,  we  have  every  motive  to  inspire  us  with  admira- 
tion  of  the  providential  wisdom  and  benevolence,  displayed 
by  the  divine  author  of  our  existence;  for,  notwithstanding 
the  great  and  comprehensive  powers  of  sight,  there  is  little  of 
the  actual  knowledge  acquired  by  this  sense,  that  may  not,  by 
attentive  and  patient  perseverance,  be  communicated  to  the 
man  who  has  been  doomed  to  darkness  from  his  birth. 

OF   STANLEY.  179 

ten  in  1757,  and  Zimri,  which  was  performed  at 
Covent  Garden,  during  the  first  season  of  Mr.  Stan- 
ley's management  of  the  oratorios  there.  He  likewise 
composed  the  music  to  an  Ode,  performed  at  Drury 
Lane,  in  the  year  1760,  and  intended  at  the  same 
time,  both  as  an  elegy  on  the  death  of  King  George 
the  Second,  and  as  a  compliment  to  his  successor. 
He  also  set  to  music  a  dramatic  pastoral,  entitled 
Arcadia,  or  the  Shepherd's  Weddiny,  which  was  per- 
formed at  the  same  theatre,  in  the  ensuing  year,  im- 
mediately after  the  marriage  of  George  the  Third  and 
Queen  Charlotte. 

In  proof  of  his  masterly  management  of  the  organ, 
it  is  well  known,  that  when,  at  the  performance  of  one 
of  Handel's  Te  Deums,  he  found  the  organ  was  half  a 
note  too  sharp  for  the  other  instruments,  he,  without 
the  least  premeditation,  transposed  the  whole  piece ; 
and  this,  with  as  much  facility  and  address  as  any 
person  could  have  done,  possessed  of  sight.  This  was 
the  more  remarkable,  since  the  key  into  which  it  was 
transposed,  (that  of  C  sharp  major,)  from  having  seven 
sharps  in  the  clef,  is  so  exceedingly  difficult  that  it  is 
never  made  use  of.  It  is  probable,  that  there  was  not 
then  in  the  kingdom  one  performer  beside  himself  who 
would  have  attempted  it,  even  though  he  had  previ- 
ously taken  the  trouble  of  writing  out  the  whole  of  the 

This  gentleman  had  two  very  favourite~violins,  one 
of  them  made  by  the  famous  Stanier,  which  he  al- 
ways used  in  concert,  and  the  other  a  Cremona,  on 
which  he  played  his  solos.  These  instruments  were 
esteemed  to  be  as  excellent  as  any  in  England,  but 

180  THE    LIFE 

unfortunately  they  were  both  burnt,  by  a  fire  which 
happened  at  the  Swan  Tavern,  in  Cornhill. 

The  following  additional  particulars  of  this  great 
man's  life,  were  given  to  the  public  a  few  years  after 
his  death,  by  Dr.  x\lcock,  a  gentleman,  on  whose  ve- 
racity the  reader  may  place  implicit  confidence.  He 
had  been  a  pupil  of  Stanley's,  and  speaks  of  his  scien- 
tific knowledge  in  the  most  exalted  terms,  adding,  that 
most  of  the  musicians  contrived  to  get  acquainted  with 
him,  as  they  found  their  advantage  in  it.  "It  was 
common,  just  as  the  service  of  St.  Andrew's  Church, 
or  the  Temple,  was  ended,  to  see  40  or  50  organists 
at  the  altar,  waiting  to  hear  his  last  voluntary ;  and 
even  Handel  himself,  I  have  frequently  seen  at  both 
of  those  places.  In  short,  it  must  be  confessed,  that 
his  extempore  voluntaries  were  inimitable,  and  his 
taste  in  composition  wonderful.  I  was  his  apprentice, 
and  I  remember,  the  first  year  I  went  to  him,  his  occa- 
sionally playing,  (for  his  amusement  only,)  at  billiards, 
mississipie,  shufile-board,  and  skittles,  at  which  games 
he  constantly  beat  his  competitors.  To  avoid  prolixi- 
ty, I  shall  only  mention  his  shewing  me  the  way, 
both  on  horseback  and  on  foot,  through  the  private 
streets  in  Westminster,  the  intricate  passages  of  the 
city,  and  the  adjacent  villages,  places  at  which  I  had 
never  been  before.  I  remember  also  his  playing  verv 
correctly,  all  Corelli's  and  Geminiani's  twelve  solos, 
on  the  violin.  He  had  so  correct  an  ear,  that  he  never 
forgot  the  voice  of  any  person  he  had  once  heard  speak, 
and  I  myself  have  divers  times  been  a  witness  of  this. 
In  April,  1779,  as  he  and  I  were  going  to  Pall  Mall, 


OF    STANLEY.  181 

to  the  late  Dr.  Boyce's  auction,  a  gentleman  met  us 
who  had  heen  in  Jamaica  twenty  years,  and  in  a 
feigned  voice,  said,  '  How  do  you  do  Mr.  Stanley  ?' 
when  he,  after  pausing  a  little,  said,  '  God  bless  me, 
Mr.  Smith,  how  long  have  you  been  in  England?'  If 
twenty  people  were  seated  at  a  table  near  him,  he 
would  address  them  all  in  regular  order,  without  their 
situations  being  previously  announced  to  him.  Riding 
on  horseback  was  one  of  his  favourite  exercises ;  and 
towards  the  conclusion  of  his  life,  when  he  lived  at 
Epping  Forest,  and  wished  to  give  his  friends  an 
airing,  he  would  often  take  them  the  pleasantest  road, 
and  point  out  the  most  agreeable  prospects.  He 
played  at  whist  with  great  readiness  and  judgment; 
each  card  was  marked  at  the  corner  with  the  point  of 
a  needle,  but  the  marks  were  so  delicately  fine,  as 
scarcely  to  be  seen  by  any  person,  not  previously  ap- 
prised of  them.  His  ha7id  was  generally  the  first  ar- 
ranged, and  it  was  not  uncommon  for  him  to  complain 
to  the  party,  that  they  were  tedious  in  sorting  their 
cards.  He  could  also  tell  the  precise  time  by  a  watch ; 
the  number  of  persons  in  a  room  upon  his  entering  it, 
and  direct  his  voice  to  each  in  particular,  even  to 
strangers,  after  they  had  once  spoken  ;  he  would  also 
miss  any  one  absent,  and  tell  who  that  person  was. 
In  a  word,  his  conceptions  of  youth,  beauty,  symme- 
try, and  shape,  were,  in  a  person  of  his  condition, 
truly  wonderful  attainments.  So  delicate  and  correct 
was  his  ear,  that  he  was  able  to  accompany  any  lesson 
with  thorough  bass,  though  he  had  never  heard  it  be- 
fore ',  thus  anticipating  the  harmony  before  the  chords 

182  THE    LIFE 

were  sounded,  and  accompanying  it  in  a  manner  suit- 
able to  its  nature." 


Dr.  Alcock's  Memoirs. — Eccentric  Mirror,  vol.  2nd. — Rees' 
Encyclopaedia.     Musical  Biography,  vol.  2nd. 

OF    HOLLAND.  183 





"Yet  he  was  kind,  or,  if  severe  in  auglit, 
The  love  he  bore  to  learning  was  his  fault.' 

A  few  particulars  in  the  history  of  this  interesting 
character  appeared  in  some  of  the  periodical  journals 
of  the  day  ;  but,  as  all  the  accounts  that  I  have  seen 
were  imperfect,  I  have  been  enabled,  through  the  kind- 
ness of  his  family,  to  add  a  few  additional  facts,  which 
have  never  been  published.  They  will  teach  us  that 
what  appear  to  be  misfortunes  and  privations,  are  ap- 
pointed by  our  Heavenly  Father  for  good,  and  may 
be  turned  to  advantage  by  an  active,  inteUigent,  and 
pious  mind. 

Mr.  Holland  was  born  at  Manchester,  October  29, 
1760,  and  spent  his  early  years  under  the  care  of  his 
parents,  who  long  kept  a  flourishing  boarding  and 
day  school  for  young  ladles,  in  that  town.  At  ten 
years  of  age  he  became  a  pupil  of  his  uncle,  the  Rev. 
Phihp  Holland,  of  Bolton,  whose  eminence,  as  a 
teacher  of  youth,  has  still  some  living  witnesses. 

184  THE    LIFE 

Here,  his  natural  quickness  of  intellect,  under  such 
judicious  direction,  rendered  the  acquisition  of  know- 
ledge extremely  easy  and  rapid ;  he  soon  obtained  a 
competent  share  of  classical  and  French  literature, 
and  became  particularly  expert  in  arithmetic,  and 
geography.  Being  designed  for  trade,  he  did  not 
pursue  the  higher  classics  so  far  as  several  of  his 
school  fellows.  He  was  intended  to  pursue  the  trade 
of  a  yarn  merchant,  which  was  his  father's  occupation, 
and  with  this  design  he  was  placed  as  an  apprentice 
with  Mr.  Mort,  of  Cowbent;  but,  when  about  18 
years  old,  he  was  gradually,  but  totally,  deprived  of 
sight.  He  was  now  reduced  to  that  helpless  condition 
which  Milton  has  so  feelingly  described,  in  the  fol- 
lowing pathetic  lines, — 

"O  dark,  dark,  dark,  amid  the  blaze  of  noon, 

Irrecoverably  dark,  total  eclipse, 

Without  all  hope  of  day  I 

O  first  created  beam,  and  thou  great  word, 

Let  there  he  light,  and  light  was  over  all ! 

Why  am  I  thus  bereaved  thy  prime  decree  ? 

The  sun  to  me  is  dark, 

And  silent." — 
But  happy  is  it  for  us,  that  we  are  constantly  un- 
der the  eye  of  a  superintending  Providence,  who 
never  fails  to  accommodate  to  the  burden  the  strength 
appointed  to  bear  it ;  and,  in  our  distresses,  affords 
not  only  those  alleviations  and  needful  aids  which 
enable  us  to  support  them,  but  also  makes  those  suf- 
ferings frequently  instrumental  in  proJucing  the 
means  by  which  they  are  mitigated.  This  is  pecu- 
liarly the  case  with  respect  to  the  blind  ;  for  though 
nothing  beneath  the  skies  can  compensate  their  loss, 
yet  they  derive  from  it  advantages  which  those  who 

OF    HOLLAND.  185 

are  blessed  with  sight  do  not  possess,  which  make  the 
loss  of  it  supportable,  and  furnish  a  needful  supply 
of  intellectual  consolation. 

This  privation  prevented  Mr.  Holland  from  pursu- 
ing the  business  for  which  he  was  originally  intended; 
and  he,   at  6rst,  endeavoured  to  prepare  himself  for 
the  musical  profession;  but  his  attention  being  directed 
to  teaching,  in  a  school  kept  by  his  mother,  he  after- 
wards became  master  of  one  of  the  most  distinguished 
ladies'  schools  in  Manchester,  and  attended  a  great 
number  of  private  pupils  in  that  town  and  neighbour- 
hood.    In  this  profession,  he  was  particularly  distin- 
guished for  his  power  of  exciting  the  attention,  and 
cultivating  the  understandings  of  his  pupils  ;  and  his 
examinations  for  ascertaining  whether  they   under- 
stood their  lessons,  were  remarkably  accurate  and  dis- 
criminating.    In  conjunction  with  his  brother,  the 
Rev.  John   Holland,   of  Bolton,   he  published  three 
editions  of  ''  Exercises  for  the  Memory  and  Under- 
standing," partly  selected  and  partly  original.     His 
original  contributions  to  this  book  were  dialogues  and 
pieces  of  poetry,  well  adapted  to  convey  instruction  ; 
such  were   the    supposed    "Dialogues   between   the 
Severn  and  the  Wye,"  and  the  ''Ouse  and  the  Trent;" 
giving  a  complete   account  of  the  parts  of  England 
and  Wales  through  which  those  rivers  flow,  and  of 
events  in    the  history   of  England  \\hicli  happened 
there;  the  work  also  contained  descriptions  of  birds 
and  their  notes,  and  of  animals  and  their  food.     His 
peculiar  infirmity  led  him  to  carry  on  his  plan  of  in- 
struction very  much  by  conversation,  and  close  ques- 
tioning on  the  books  which  he  gave  his  pupils  to  read  l 


186  THE    LIFE 

and  he  may  be  said  to  have  been  the  father  of  the 
"Interrogative  System,"  which  has  since  been  claimed 
by  another,  whose  merit,  however,  in  promoting  its 
extension,  it  is  not  here  intended  to  question.  His 
great  skill  in  ready  calculation,  rendered  him  also  a 
most  valuable  and  efficient  member  of  the  committees 
of  several  of  the  canals,  railways,  and  water-works, 
connected  with  the  important  district  in  which  he  re- 

In  these  useful  labours  he  spent  a  long  life,  highly 
esteemed  among  an  extensive  circle  of  friends,  for 
menta.1  qualities  of  no  common  kind,  extensive  know- 
ledge, and  great  cheerfulness;  qualities  which  con- 
tinued to  the  last,  amidst  much  bodily  infirmity,  un- 
der which  he  laboured  duiing  several  of  the  latter 
years  cf  his  life.  He  died  on  the  11th  of  June,  1829, 
calm  and  resigned  ;  and,  at  the  close,  so  easily,  that 
the  moment  of  his  departure  was  not  perceived,  by 
those  of  his  numerous  family  who  suri'ounded  his  bed- 
side. He  w^as  a  constant  attendant  of  the  chapel  in 
Mosley  Street,  where  his  funeral  sermon  was  preached 
l^y  the  excellent  Minister,  the  Rev.  J.  J.  Taylor,  who 
has  permitted  the  following  well  merited  character  of 
him  to  close  this  tribute  to  his  memory.  ''Early  in 
his  career,  our  departed  friend  was  visited  by  one  of 
the  severest  privations  which  could  have  befallen  an 
intelligent  and  inquiring  mind,  a  privation  which  for 
ever  closed  up  one  of  the  principal  avenues  to  know- 
ledge, and  compelled  the  sufferer  to  resort  more  en- 
tirely to  his  internal  resources.  He  once  observed  to 
me,  with  a  rational  and  cheerful  piet}^  which  forcibly 
struck  me  at  the  time,  and  which  I  therefore  wish 
not  to  omit  mentioning,  that  this  privation,  by  the 

OF   HOLLAND.  187 

kind  aiTangement  of  Providence,  had  been  converted 
into  one  of  the  chief  blessings  of  his  existence  ;  had 
procured  for  him  innumerable  friends,  and  had  been  a 
principal  means  of  his  great  usefulness  in  life ;  had 
directed  his  time  and  thoughts  to  the  pursuit  of  know- 
ledge, and  the  cultivation  of  the  human  miud  ;  and  had 
thus  saved  him,  by  the  quiet  and  unambitious  course 
of  life  into  which  it  had  induced  him  to  enter,  from 
very  distressing  embarrassments  and  misfortunes,  to 
which  others,  whose  early  prospects  were  far  more 
flattering,  had  ultimately  fallen  victims.  My  friends, 
let  us  turn  this  good  man's  example  to  our  own  ac- 
count. Like  him,  let  us  devote  our  lives  to  useful, 
honourable,  and  active  employment;  like  him,  let  us 
be  forward  to  promote  rational  instruction  and  rational 
entertainment  among  the  young;  like  him,  let  us  find 
a  blessing  in  every  dispensation  of  Providence,  and 
extract  the  elements  of  improvement  and  thankfulness 
even  from  privation  and  sufTering ;  like  him,  let  our 
Christianity  be  seen  in  deeds  of  active  usefulness,  and 
in  faithfully  using  the  gifts  and  opportunities  that  we 
enjoy  ;  like  him,  let  us  lean  on  the  God  of  our]fathers, 
and  wait  in  patience  His  merciful  signal  of  release. 
That  friend  is  gone  !  Gone,  as  we  hope  and  trust 
through  the  mercy  of  God,  to  the  just  man's  reward. 
That  friend  is  gone,  and  hath  left  the  place  which  he 
so  long  and  so  usefully  filled  in  society,  to  be  filled  by 
the  young  and  rising  generation." 


Mouthly  Repository,  and  Review  of  Theology  and  general 
Literature.  No.  722. 

188  THE   LIFE 




•<  His  comic  vein  had  every  charm  to  please, 
'Twas  nature's  dictate,  chann'd  with  nature's 

Want  of  sight,  even  in  an  animal,  demands  and 
excites  our  commiseration,  but  a  rational  creature  af- 
flicted with  blindness,  is  one  of  the  most  deplorable 
objects  that  the  feeling  mind  can  possibly  contem- 
plate ;  for  we  possess  not  any  faculty  which  affords  so 
many  resources  of  utility  and  entertainment  as  the 
power  of  vision,  nor  is  there  any  loss  or  privation, 
which  can  be  productive  of  calamities  so  multiform, 
so  various,  and  so  bitter,  as  the  want  of  sight. 

Michael  Clancy,  ]\I.D.  was  born  in  the  county  of 
Clare,  Ireland,  and  received  part  of  his  education  at 
one  of  the  colleges  in  Paris,  which  he,  however,  ab- 
ruptly left  before  he  had  completed  his  studies ;  and 
in  this  early  part  of  his  life,  he  experienced  many 
vicissitudes  and  hardships.  In  1737,  he  was  depri- 
ved of  his  sidit  bv  a  severe  cold,  and  was  thus  ren_ 
dered  incapable  of  following  his  profession  as  a  physi- 
cian. As  the  Doctor  had,  in  his  earlier  days,  paid 
his  addresses  to  the  Muses,  he  was  advised,  by  some 

OF    CLANCY.  189 

friends,  to  try  his  success  as  an  author ;  and,  suppo- 
sing the  theatre  was  open  alike  to  all,  his  first  attempt 
was  in  the  dramatic  line.  Flushed  with  the  hope  of 
immediate  distinction,  as  well  as  with  the  expectation 
df  gain,  he  composed  a  comedy  in  a  short  time,  and 
thought,  Avhen  he  had  wound  up  the  plot,  that  all  his 
lahour  was  at  an  end.  He  found,  however,  to  his 
cost,  that  every  avenue  to  the  theatre,  in  those  days, 
as  well  as  our  own,  was  blocked  up  by  a  set  of  drama- 
tic undertakers,  who  were  ready,  at  any  price,  to 
work  by  the  pound,  or  by  the  yard  :  and  that  it  was 
as  diflficult  to  get  a  sight  of  the  manager,  as  it  would 
be  to  get  a  sight  of  the  Grand  Lama.  He,  however, 
at  last  succeeded  in  bringing  out  his  comedy,  called 
"  The  Sharper,"  which  was  acted  five  times  at  the 
theatre,  in  Smock-alley,  Dublin,  and  obtained  for 
him  the  notice  of  Dean  Swift.  The  Doctor,  having 
detailed  a  number  of  the  difficulties  he  was  doomed  to 
encounter,  in  his  efforts  to  get  the  piece  upon  the 
stage,  relates  the  following  circumstance,  which  is 
given  in  his  own  words  : — "  On  my  return  to  Dublin, 
I  brought  the  play  to  Dr.  Helsham,  who  was  consci- 
ous of  his  insufficiency  in  matters  so  foreign  to  his 
way  of  life;  I  requested  him,  therefore,  as  he  was  very 
familiar  with  Dean  Swift,  to  put  the  comedy  into  his 
hands,  as  I  judged  that  his  approbation,  or  dislike, 
would  at  once  determine  the  fate  of  the  performance. 
'Not!,  indeed;'  said  Dr.  Helsham.  'Have  you  a 
mind  that  I  should  go  faster  down  his  stairs  than  I 
went  up  ?  Shall  I  subject  myself  to  be  laughed  at,  or 
perhaps  ill  treated  ?  Not  I,  indeed ;  I  do  not  care  to 
bring  his  tongue  upon  me.     Go  to  Dr.  Grattan ;  the 


190  THE    LIFE 

Dean  will  probably  hear  from  him  what  he  would  not 
from  me.'  I  went  to  Dr.  Grattan,  and  solicited  his 
assistance  in  the  same  way.  'Who,  I?'  said  Dr. 
Grattan.  'Not  I,  by  any  means ;  What  have  I  to  do 
with  plays  ?  I  know  nothing  of  writing  books  ;  I 
should  have  a  fine  time  of  it  were  I  to  bring  such  a 
piece  of  stuff  before  the  Dean,  and  have  it  thrown  in 
my  face,  or  be  called  a  blockhead  for  my  pains.  I  should 
be  glad  to  serve  you,  but  you  must  find  somebody  else 
to  befriend  you  on  this  occasion.  Dr.  G rattan's  brother. 
Minister  of  St.  Andrew's,  who  happened  to  be  present, 
was  pleased  to  say,  that  he  would  find  an  opportunity 
of  laying  the  book  on  the  Dean's  table,  and,  if  it  was 
good,  he  would  be  likely  to  enquire  how  it  came  there. 
This  gentleman"  accordingly  did  so,  and  there  it  lay 
for  some  time,  without  the  author's  hearing  one  word 
about  it.  Swift,  however,  read  it,  and  not  knowing  how 
the  play  came  there,  asked  all  his  friends  which  of  them 
had  brought  it ;  none  of  those  to  whom  it  was  known 
would,  however,  venture  to  tell,  as  he  had  not  declared 
his  opinion  of  it.  One  day,  as  Dr.  Helsham  saw  it 
on  his  table,  he  took  it  up  to  look  at  it,  and  asked 
the  Dean  what  it  was  ?  The  Dean  smiled,  and  told 
him,  it  was  a  villain  well  painted,  and  that,  who- 
ever had  written  the  piece,  it  conveyed  a  good  moral. 
Dr.  Helsham,  who  saw  that  he  had  nothing  to  fear, 
then  told  him  the  author's  name,  and  what  he  knew 
of  him.  'Tell  him,' said  the  Dean,  'that  in  a  few 
days  I  will  pay  him  a  visit.'  He  then  went  into  his 
closet,  and  wrote  the   following   letter,    which    Dr. 

or    CLANCY.  ]91 

Helsham  brought,  together  with  a  small  packet. 
*To  Dr.  Clancy. 

*  Some  friend  of  mine  lent  me  a  comedy, 
which  I  was  told  was  written  by  yon.  I  read  it  care- 
fully, and  with  much  pleasure,  on  account  both  of  the 
characters  and  the  moral.  I  have  no  interest  with 
the  people  of  the  playhouse,  else  I  would  gladly  re- 
commend it  to  them.  I  send  you  a  small  present,  in 
such  gold  as  will  not  give  you  trouble  to  change  ;  for 
I  much  pity  your  loss  of  sight,  which,  if  it  had 
pleased  God  to  let  you  enjoy,  your  other  talents  might 
have  been  your  honest  support,  and  have  eased  you 
of  your  present  con6nement. 

*  I  am.  Sir,  your  v/ell  wishing  Friend, 

and  humble  Servant, 

'Jonathan  Swift. 
'  Deanery  House,  Christmas-day,  1737. 

'P.S.  I  know  not  who  lent  me  the  play ;  if  it 
came  from  you,  I  will  send  it  back  to-morrow.' 

This  letter  and  the  packet  w^re  sealed  with  the 
head  of  Socrates.  The  packet  contained  five  pounds, 
in  small  pieces  of  gold,  of  different  kinds,  of  which 
the  largest  did  not  exceed  five  shillings.  A  little 
time  after,"  says  Dr.  Clancy,  ''  I  sent  him  a  parcel 
of  tickets  ;  he  kept  but  one,  which  he  said  he  had 
paid  for ;  and  afterwards  sent  me  two  four  pound 
pieces  for  more."  Thus  ends  the  correspondence  be- 
tween the  Dean  and  our  author. 

From  this  period,   his  life  seems  to  have  been 

192  THE    LIFE 

passed  amid  all  the  inconveniences  that  result  from 
confined  circumstances.  He  however,  obtained  from 
George  II.  a  pension  of  £40.  a  year  daring  life ;  and, 
in  the  year  1746,  he  received  a  sum  of  money  for 
performing  the  part  of  Tiresias,  the  blind  prophet  in 
CEdipus,  which  was  acted  for  his  benefit  at  Drury- 
lane  Theatre.  He  afterwards  settled  at  Kilkenny,  at 
the  Latin  school  there.  He  was  the  author  of  three 
dramatic  pieces,  and  also  of  a  Latin  Poem,  called 
''  Templum  Veneris,  sive  Amorum  Rhapsodise."  By 
the  following  fragment  found  among  the  papers  of 
Mrs.  Pilkington,  it  would  seem  that  poor  Clancy  was 
cursed  with  a  termagant  wife  : 

Hapless  Clancy  !  grieve  no  more, 
Socrates  was  plagu'd  before ; 
Though  o'ercast,  thy  visual  ray- 
Meets  no  more  the  light  of  day, 
Yet  ev'n  here  is  comfort  had, 
Good  prevailing  over  bad. 
Now  thou  canst  no  more  behold 
The  grim  aspect  of  thy  scold; 
Oh  !  what  raptures  wouldst  thou  find, 
Wert  thou  deaf  as  well  as  blind. 


Mrs.  Pilkington's  Memoirs,  vol.  2,  p.  151. — Swift's  Miscella- 
neous  Works. 

OF    TROUGHTON.  l93 



"  Unskilful  he  to  fawn,  or  seek  for  power, 
By  doctrines  fasbion'd  to  the  varying  hour.' 

This  eminent  divine  lived  in  the  seventeenth  cen- 
tury. He  was  what  was  then  called  a  Puritan;  a  poor, 
despised,  persecuted  class  of  men,  of  whom  the  world 
was  not  worthy.  Wood,  author  of  the  "  Athenae  Ox- 
onienses,"  allhongh  greatly  opposed  to  the  Puritans, 
speaks  very  favourably  of  Trough  ton,  and  he  is  also 
mentioned  by  Calamy  and  Palmer,  as  a  man  of  great 
learning  and  talents,  and  of  much  moderation.  I 
prefer  Wood's  account  of  him,  which  I  shall  insert 
here,  to  those  of  the  other  two. 

**John  Troughton,  son  of  Nathan  Troughton,  a 
clothier,  was  born  in  the  city  of  Coventry,  and  educa- 
ted in  the  free-school  there,  under  Samuel Fraiikland, 
he  became  scholar  of  St.  John's  College,  1655,  and 
afterwards  a  Fellow,  and  Bachelor  of  Arts.  Upon  the 
restoration  of  King  CharlesTI.  he  was,  however,  eject- 
ed, to  make  room  for  one  who  had  been  expelled  by 
the  visitors  in  1648,  and  retired  to  a  market  town  in 
Oxfordshire,  commonly  called  Bicester;  where,  living 

194  THE    LIFE 

a  moderate  nonconformist,  he  read  academical  learn- 
ing to  young  men,  and  sometimes  preached  in  private, 
whereby  he  got  a  comfortable  subsistence.    Upon  the 
issuing  out  of  his  Majesty's  declaration  for  the  tolera- 
tion of  religion,  dated  15th  of  March,  1671,  this  Mr. 
Trough  ton  was  one  of  those  four,  (Dr.  Henry  Lang- 
ley,  and  Thomas  Gilbert,  and  Henry  Cornish,  Bache- 
lor of  Divinity,  being  the  other  three,)   who   were 
appointed  by  the  principal  heads  of  the  brethren,  to 
carry  on  the  work  of  preaching  within  the  city  of  Ox- 
ford.    The  place  where  they  held  their  meetings  was 
in  Thames-street,  without  the  north  gate,  in  a  house 
which  had  been  built  a  little  before  the  civil  war 
began,  by  Thomas  Punn,  alias  Thomas  Aires;  where 
each  person  endeavouring  to  shew  his  parts,  this  our 
author  Trough  ton  was,  by  the  auditory  of  scholars, 
(who  came  among    them    merely    out    of  novelty,) 
lield  the  best,  and  was  by  them  most  applauded.  The 
truth  is,  though  the  man  had  been  blind,  occasioned 
by  the   small-pox,  ever  since  he  was  four  years  old, 
yet  he  was  a  good  school  divine  and   metaphysician, 
and  was  much  commended  while  he  was  in  the  Uni- 
versity for  his  disputations.  He  was  not  of  so  busy,  tur- 
bulent, and  furious  a  spirit,  as  those  of  his  persuasion 
commonly  are,  but  very  moderate.    And  although  he 
often   preached,   as   occasions  offered  themselves,  in 
prohibited  assemblies,  yet  he  did  not  make  it  his  busi- 
ness, by  employing  all  the  little  tricks  and   artifices, 
too  frequently  practised  by  other  hot-headed  zealots 
of  his   fraternity,    viz.   vilifying  and  railing  at  the 
established   ordinances  of  the  church,  libelling   the 
conformable  ministry,  keeping  their  meetings  at  the 

OF    TROUGHTON.  195 

very  time  when  the  services  and  administration  of 
the  church  are  regularly  performing,  &c. — he  did  not, 
I  say,  by  these  and  such  Hke  most  unwarrantable  con- 
trivances, endeavour  to  withdraw  weaker  persons  from 
the  sacred  bosom  of  the  church,  in  order  to  fix  and 
herd  them  in  associated,  defying  conventicles.  He 
was  respected  by,  and  maintained  an  amicable  corres- 
pondence with  some  of  the  conformable  clergy,  because 
of  his  great  knowledge  and  moderation.  He  hath 
written  and  published,  as  follows  : 

"Lutherus  Redivivus  ;  or,  the  Protestant  Doctrine 
of  Justification  by  Faith  only,  vindicated;  and  the 
plausible  opinion  of  justification  by  faith  and  obedi- 
ence, proved  to  be  Arminian  and  Popish,  and  to  lead 
unavoidably  to  Socinianism,  Part  I.  London,  1667. 
This  is  reflected  on  by  Thomas  Hotchkis,  in  his  pre- 
face to  the  second  part  of  'A  Discourse  concerning 
Imputed  Righteousness,  &c.'  London,  1678. 

"LutherusRedivivus;  or,  the  Protestant  Doctrine  of 
Justification  by  Christ's  Righteousness  imputed  to 
Believers,  explained  and  vindicated.  Part  II.  Lon- 
don, 1678. 

*'  Letter  to  a  Friend  touching  God's  Providence 
about  sinful  actions  ;  in  answer  to  a  Letter,  entitled, 
*The  Reconcileableness  of  God's  Presence,  &c.'  and 
also  to  a  Postscript  of  that  letter.     London,  1678. 

'*  Popery  the  Grand  Apostasy ;  being  the  substance 
of  certain  Sermons  preached  on  2  Thess.  ii  chap,  from 
verse  1  to  12,  on  occasion  of  the  desperate  plot  of  the 
Papists  against  the  King,  kingdom,  and  Protestant 
Religion.  To  which  is  added,  a  Sermon  on  Rev.  xviii. 
4.  preached  on  the  5th.  of  Nov.  1678.  London,  1680 

196  THE    LIFE 

"An  Apology  for  the  Nonconfonnists,  shewing 
their  reasons,  both  for  their  not  conforming,  and  for 
their  preaching  publicly,  though  forbidden  by  law. 
London,   1681,  quarto. 

"An  Answer  to  Dr.  Stillingfleet's  Seiinon  and  his 
Defence  of  it,  so  much  as  concerneth  the  Noncon- 
fornjists'  preaching.    Printed  with  the  Apology. 

"This  learned  and  religious  person,  Mr.  John 
Trough  ton,  died  in  a  house  of  one  of  the  brethren, 
situate  and  being  in  All-Saint's  parish  within  the  city 
of  Oxford,  on  the  20th  of  August,  1681,  aged  44 
years ;  whereupon  his  body  was  carried  to  Bicester 
before  mentioned,  alias  Burchester,  and  buried  in  the 
church  there.  At  which  time  Abraham  James,  a 
blind  man,  master  of  the  free-school  at  Woodstock, 
(sometime  of  Magdalen  Hall,)  preaching  his  funeral 
sermon,  did  take  occasion  not  only  to  be  lavish  in  the 
commendations  of  the  defunct,  but  to  make  several 
glances  on  the  government  established  by  law  ;  so  that 
an  auditor  there,  named  Samuel  Blackwell,  M.A. 
and  vicar  of  Bicester,  (a  zealous  man  for  the  Church 
of  England,)  complaining  to  the  diocesan  of  him, 
James  was  glad  to  retract  what  he  had  said  before  him, 
to  prevent  an  ejection  from  his  school,  which  other- 
wise would  inevitably  have  come  to  pass." 


Calamy's  Life  of  Baxter — Palmer's  Lives  of  the  Nonconfor- 
mists—Wood's Athenae  Oxonienses. 

OF   HAMPSON.  197 




''The  rolls  of  fame  I  will  not  now  explore, 
Nor  need  I  here  describe  in  learned  lay, 

How  forth  the  minstrel  fared  in  days  of  yore, 
Right  glad  of  heart,  though  homely  in  array. 
His  waving  beard  and  locks  all  hoary  grey  ; 

While  from  his  bending  shoulders  decent  hung 
His  harp,  the  sole  companion  of  his  way  ; 

Which  to  the  whistling  wind  I'esponsive  rung 

And  ever,  as  he  went,  some  merr_/  lay  he  sung." 

The  following  account  of  the  blind  bard  ofMagilli- 
gan  was  taken  from  his  own  lips,  July  3,  1805,  by 
the  Rev.  Mr.  Sampson,  at  the  request  of  Miss  Owen- 
son,  now  Lady  Morgan. 

''  Denis  Hampson,  or  the  man  with  two  heads,  is 
a  native  of  Deny;  his  father,  Bryan  Darrogher 
Hampson,  held  the  whole  town-land  of  Tyrcrevan, 
and  his  mother's  relations  were  in  possession  of  the 
Wood-town,  (both  considerable  farms  in  Magilligan.) 
He  lost  his  sight  at  the  age  of  three  years,  by  the 
small-pox  ;  at  twelve  he  began  to  learn  the  harp, 
under  Bridget  O'Cahan,  '  for,'  as  he  said,  '  in  those 
old  times,  women  as  well  as  men  were  taught  the 

198  THE   LIFE 

Irish  harp,  in  the  best  families,  and  every  old  Irish 
family  had  harps  in  plenty.'  His  next  teacher  was 
John  C.  Garragher,  a  blind  travelling  harper,  whom 
he  followed  to  Buncranagh,  where  his  master  used  to 
play  to  Colonel  Vaughan;  he  had  afterwards  Laughlin 
Hanning  and  Pat  Connor  in  succession,  as  masters. 
All  these  were  from  Connaiight,  which  was,  as  he 
added,  '  the  best  part  of  the  kingdom  for  music  and 

"At  eighteen  years  of  age  he  began  to  play  for  him- 
self, and  was  taken  into  the  house  of  Counsellor  Can- 
ning, at  Garvagh,  for  half  a  year;  his  host,  with 
Squire  Gage  and  Doctor  Bacon,  bought,  and  presented 
him  with,  a  harp.  He  travelled  nine  or  ten  years 
through  Ireland  and  Scotland,  and  tells  soQie  faceti- 
ous stories  of  gentlemen  in  both  countries;  among 
others,  that,  in  passing  near  to  the  residence  of  Sir 
J.  Campbell,  at  Aghanbrack,  he  learned  that  this 
gentleman  had  spent  a  great  deal,  and  was  living  on 
an  allowance  of  so  much  per  week.  Hampson,  through 
delicacy,  would  not  call,  but  some  of  the  domestics 
were  sent  after  him ;  on  coming  into  the  castle.  Sir 
James  asked  him  why  he  had  not  called,  adding,  'sir, 
there  never  was  a  harper  but  yourself  that  passed  the 
door  of  my  father's  house ;'  to  which  Hampson  an- 
swered, that  he  had  heard  in  the  neighbourhood  that 
his  honour  was  not  often  at  home,  with  which  deli- 
cate evasion  Sir  James  was  satisfied.  He  added,  that 
this  was  the  highest-bred  and  stateliest  man  he  ever 
knew;  if  he  were  putting  on  a  new  pair  of  gloves, 
and  one  of  them  dropped  on  the  floor,  (though  ever  so 
clean,)  he  would  order  his  servant  to  bring  him  ano- 

OF   HAMPSON.  199 

ther  pair.  He  says  that,  in  that  time  he  never  met 
but  one  laird  that  had  a  harp,  and  that  was  a  very 
small  one,  played  on  formerly  by  the  laird's  father, 
and  that  when  he  tuned  it  with  new  strings,  the  laird 
and  his  lady  were  both  so  pleased  with  his  music,  that 
they  invited  him  back  in  these  words  ;  '  Hampson,  as 
soon  as  you  think  this  child  of  ours  (a  boy  of  three 
years  of  age,)  is  6t  to  learn  on  his  grandfather's  harp, 
come  back  to  teach  him,  and  you  shall  not  repent  it;' 
but  this,  however,  he  never  accomplished. 

''He  told  me  a  story  of  the  laird  of  Stone,  with  a 
great  deal  of  comic  relish.  When  he  was  playing  at 
the  house,  a  message  came  that  a  large  party  of  gen- 
tlemen were  coming  to  grouse,  and  would  spend  some 
days  with  the  laird ;  the  lady,  being  in  great  distress, 
turned  to  her  husband,  saying,  '  what  shall  we  do, 
my  dear,  for  so  many,  in  the  way  of  beds  ?'  '  Give 
yourself  no  vexation,'  replied  the  laird;  'give  us 
enough  to  eat,  and  1  will  supply  the  rest,  and  as  to 
beds,  believe  me,  every  man  shall  find  one  for  himself,' 
meaning  that  his  guests  would  fall  under  the  table. 

In  this  second  trip  to  Scotland,  in  the  year  1745, 
being  at  Edinburgh,  when  Charles  the  Pretender  was 
there,  he  was  called  into  the  great  hall  to  play  ;  at  first 
he  w^as  alone,  but  afterwards  four  other  fiddlers  joined. 
The  tune  called  for  was,  '  The  king  shall  enjoy  his 
own  again.'   He  sung  here  part  of  the  words  following; 

'  T  hope  to  see  the  day 

When  the  Whigs  shall  run  away, 

And  the  king  shall  enjoy  his  own  again.' 

"I  asked  him  if  he  heard  the  Pretender  speak;  he 
replied,  'I  only  heard  him  ask,  'Is  Sylvan  there  ?' 

200  THE   LIFE 

on  which  some  one  answered,  'he  is  not  here,  please 
your  Royal  Highness,  but  he  shall  be  sent  for.'  He 
meant  to  say  Sullivan,  continued  Hampson,  'but 
that  was  the  way  he  called  the  name.'  Hampson, 
who  was  then  above  fifty  years  old,  was  brought  into 
the  Pretender's  presence  by  Colonel  Kelly,  of  Ros- 
common, and  Sir  Thomas  Sheridan.  He  says  that 
Capt.  M'Donnel,  when  in  Ireland,  came  to  see  him, 
and  that  he  told  the  Captain,  that  Charley's  cockade 
was  in  his  father's  house. 

''He  played  in  many  Irish  houses;  among  others, 
those  of  Lord  De  Courcy,  Mr.  Fortescue,  Sir  P. 
Bellew,  and  Squire  Roche  ;  also  in  the  great  towns 
of  Dublin,  Cork,  &c.  respecting  all  which  he  inter- 
spersed pleasant  anecdotes,  with  surprising  gaiety  and 
correctness.  As  to  correctness,  he  mentioned  many 
anecdotes  of  my  gi'and-father  and  gi*and-aunl,  at  whose 
houses  he  used  to  be  frequently;  in  fact,  in  this  iden- 
tical harper,  whom  you  sent  me  to  survey,  I  recogni- 
zed an  acquaintance,  who,  as  soon  as  he  found  me 
out,  seemed  exhilarated  at  having  an  old  friend  of 
what  he  called,  '  the  old  stock,'  in  his  poor  cabin. 
He  even  mentioned  many  anecdotes  of  my  own  boy- 
hood, which,  though  by  me  long  forgotten,  were  ac- 
curately true  ;  these  things  shew  his  surprising  power 
of  recollection,  at  the  age  of  a  hundred  and  eight 
years.  Since  I  saw  him  last,  which  was  in  1787,  the 
wen  on  the  back  of  his  head  is  greatly  increased;  it  is 
now  hanging  over  his  neck  and  shoulders,  nearly  as 
large  as  his  head,  from  which  circumstance  he  derives 
his  appellative,  'the  man  with  two  heads.'  General 
Hart,  who  is  an  admirer  of  music,  sent  a  limner  lately 

OF    HAMPSON.  201 

to  take  a  drawing  of  him,  which  cannot  fail  to  be  in- 
teresting, if  it  were  only  Ibr  the  venerable  expression 
of  his  meagre,  blind  countenance,  and  the  symmetry 
of  his  tall,  thin,  but  not  debilitated,  person.  I  found 
him  lying  on  his  back  in  bed,  near  the  fire  of  his 
cabin ;  his  family  being  employed  in  the  usual  way. 
His  harp  was  under  the  bed-clothes,  by  which  his 
face  was  covered  also.  When  he  heard  my  name,  he 
started  up,  (being  already  dressed,)  and  seemed  re- 
joiced to  hear  the  sound  of  my  voice,  which,  he  said, 
he  began  to  recollect.  He  asked  for  my  children, 
whom  I  brought  to  see  him,  and  he  felt  them  over  and 
over  ;  then,  with  tones  of  great  affection,  he  blessed 
God  that  he  had  seen  four  generations  of  the  name, 
and  ended  by  giving  the  children  his  blessing.  He 
then  tuned  his  old  time-beaten  harp,  his  solace  and 
bedfellow,  and  played  with  astonishing  justness,  and 
good  taste.  The  tunes  which  he  played  were  his  fa- 
vourites ;  and  he,  with  an  elegance  of  manner,  said  at 
the  same  time,  '  I  remember  you  have  a  fondness  for 
music,  and  the  tunes  you  used  to  ask  for  I  have  not  for- 
gotten;' these  were  Coolin,  the  Dawning  of  the  Day, 
Ellen  Aroon,  Ceandubhdilis,  &c.  These,  except 
the  third,  were  the  first  tunes  which,  according  to 
regulation,  he  played  at  the  famous  meeting  of  harp- 
ers at  Belfast,  under  the  patronage  of  some  amateurs 
of  Irish  music.  Mr.  Bunting,  the  celebrated  musi- 
cian of  that  town,  was  at  Hampson's,  the  year  before, 
noting  his  tunes,  and  his  manner  of  playing,  which 
is  in  the  best  old  style.  He  said,  with  the  honest 
feeling  of  self-love,  'when  I  played  the  old  tunes,  not 
another  of  the  harp  ers  would  play  after  me.' 

202  THE    LIFE 

He  came  to  Magilligan  many  years  ago,  and  at  an 
advanced  age  married  a  woman  of  Innishowen,  whom 
he  found  living  in  the  house  of  a  friend.  *I  can't 
tell/  quoth  Hampson,  'what  it  was  that  buckled  us 
together;  she  being  lame  and  I  blind.'  By  this  wife 
he  had  one  daughter,  married  to  a  cooper,  who  has 
several  children,  and  maintains  them  all,  though 
Hampson  (in  this  alone  seeming  to  dote,)  says,  that 
his  son-in-law  is  a  spendthrift,  and  that  he  himself 
maintains  them;  the  family  humour  his  whim,  and 
the  old  man  is  quieted.  He  is  pleased  when  they  tell 
him,  as  he  thinks  is  the  case,  that  people  of  character 
for  musical  taste,  send  letters  to  invite  him ;  and  he, 
though  incapable  now  of  leaving  the  house,  is  plan- 
ning expeditions  never  to  be  attempted,  much  less 
realized.  These  are  the  only  traces  of  mental  debili- 
ty, and  as  to  his  body,  he  has  no  inconvenience  but 
that  arising  from  a  chronic  disorder.  His  habits  have 
ever  been  sober  ;  his  favourite  drink,  once  beer,  now 
milk  and  water,  and  his  diet  chiefly  potatoes.  I  asked 
him  to  teach  my  daughter,  but  he  declined ;  adding, 
that  it  was  too  hard  for  a  young  girl,  but  nothing 
would  give  him  greater  pleasure,  if  he  thought  it  could 
be  done. 

"Lord  Bristol,  when  lodging  at  the  bathing  house 
of  Mount  Salut,  near  Magilligan,  gave  three  guineas, 
and  ground  rent  free,  towards  the  house  where  Hamp- 
son now  lives ;  and  at  the  house-warming,  his  Lord- 
ship, with  his  Lady  and  family,  came,  and  the  child- 
ren danced  to  his  harp.  The  Bishop  also  gave  three 
crowns  to  the  family,  and  in  the  dear  year,  his  Lord- 

OF   HAMPSON.  203 

ship  called  at  the  door  in  his  coach  and  six,  and  gave 
them  a  guinea  to  buy  meal. 

"The  following  lines  are  sculptured  on  the  old 
harp,  the  sides  and  front  of  which  are  of  white  sally, 
the  hack  of  6r,  patched  with  copper  and  iron  plates. 

'  In  the  time  of  Noah  T  was  green, 

After  his  flood  I  have  not  been  seen, 

Until  seventeen  hundred  and  two.  I  was  found, 

By  Gorman  Kelly  under  ground  j 

He  raised  me  up  to  that  degree  ; 

Queen  of  music  they  call  me,' 

"  His  daughter,  now  attending  him,  is  only  thirty- 
three  years  old. 

"I  have  now  given  you  an  account  of  my  visit,  and 
even  thank  you,  (though  my  fingers  are  tired,)  for  the 
pleasure  you  procured  to  me  by  this  interesting  com- 
mission. Ever  yours, 

G.  V.  Sampson." 

Hampson  died  at  the  advanced  age  of  a  hundred 
and  ten  years.  A  few  hours  before  his  death,  he 
tuned  his  harp,  that  it  might  be  in  readiness  to  enter- 
tain some  company  who  were  expected  to  pass  that 
way  shortly  after ;  however,  he  felt  the  approach  of 
death,  and  calling  his  family  aroimd  him,  he  resigned 
his  breath  without  a  struggle,  retaining  his  faculties 
in  a  considerable  measure,  until  the  last  moment  of 
his  existence. 

The  foregoing  account  of  Hampson  does  not  men- 
tion whether  he  had  been  married  more  than  once, 
but  this  seems  probable,  from  the  age  of  his  daughter 
attending  him  at  the  time  it  was  written,  who,  if 

204  THE    LIFE 

thirty  three  years  old  then,  must  have  been  born  when 
he  was  seventy-five. 


Which  appeared  in  the  Belfast  Magazine,  January,  1808. 

"  The  fame  of  the  brave  shall  no  longer  be  sounded. 
The  last  of  our  bards  now  sleeps  cold  in  the  grave; 

Magilligan's  rocks,  where  his  lays  have  resounded, 
Frown  dark  at  the  ocean  and  spurn  at  the  wave. 

For  Hampson,  no  more  shall  thy  soul-touching  finger 
Steal  sweet  o'er  the  strings,  and  wild  melody  pour; 

No  more  near  thy  hut  shall  the  villagers  linger, 

While  strains  from  thy  harp  warble  soft  round  the  shore. 

No  more  thy  harp  swells  with  enraptured  emotion. 
Thy  wild  gleams  of  fancy  for  ever  are  fled  ; 

No  longer  thy  minstrelsy  charms  the  rude  ocean 
That  rolls  near  the  green  turf  that  pillows  thy  head. 

Yet  vigour  and  youth  with  bright  visions  had  fired  thee, 
And  rose  buds  of  health  have  blown  bright  on  thy  cheek, 

The  songs  of  the  sweet  bards  of  Erin  inspired  thee. 
And  urged  thee  to  wauder,  bright  laurels  to  seek. 

Yes,  oft  hast  thou  sung  of  our  kings  crowned  with   gl  ory 

Or  sighing,  repeated  the  lovers'  fond  lay; 
And  oft  hast  thou  sung  of  the  bards  famed  in  story, 

Whose  wild  notes  of  rapture  have  long  passed  away. 

Thy  grave  shall  be  screened  from  the  blast  and  the  billow, 

Around  it  a  fence  shall  posterity  raise  ; 
Erin's  children  shall  wet  with  tears  thy  cold  pillow. 

Her  youth  shall  lament  thee  and  carol  thy  praise." 


Lady  Morgan's  wild  Irish  Girl,  vol.  3— Belfast  Magazine. 

OF    SALINAS.  205 




"  From  what  blest  spring  did  he  derive  his  art 
To  soothe  our  cares,  and  thus  command  the  heart  ? 
He  did  but  think,  and  music  did  arise, 
DUating  joy,  as  light  o'erspreads  the  skies. 
From  an  immortal  source,  like  that  it  came; 
But  light  we  know — this  wonder  wants  a  name .' 
What  art  thou?  From  what  causes  dost  thou  spring? 
O  music  1  thou  divine  mysterious  thing .'" 

Franciscus  Salinas,  the  son  of  the  quaestor  or 
treasurer  of  Burgos,  was  born  about  the  year  1513. 
Although,  from  the  day  of  his  birth,  he  laboured  un- 
der the  misfortune  of  an  incurable  blindness,  he  was 
the  author  of  one  of  the  most  valuable  books  on  mu- 
sic now  extant  in  any  language.  He  began  very 
early  to  devote  himself  to  the  study  of  music,  and 
during  his  youth,  nearly  the  whole  of  his  time  was 
employed  in  singing  and  playing  on  the  organ. 
While  he  was  a  boy,  a  young  female,  who  was  about 


206  THE    LIFE 

to  take  the  veil,  happened  to  come  to  the  place  where 
he  resided.  She  expressed  a  desire  of  learning  to  play 
on  the  organ,  and  for  that  purpose  became  an  inmate 
in  his  father's  house,  and  was  taught  music  by  Salinas, 
while  he,  in  return,  received  from  her  instruction  in 

His  parents  afterwards  sent  him  to  Salamanca, 
where,  for  some  years,  he  assiduously  applied  himself 
to  the  study  of  the  Greek  language  ;  and  also  to  the 
study  of  philosojDh}',  and  the  arts.  The  naiTowness 
of  his  circumstances,  however,  soon  compelled  him 
to  leave  the  university,  after  which  he  was  taken 
into  the  king's  palace,  where  he  was  patronized  by 
Petrus  Sarmentus,  Archbishop  of  Compostella.  When 
the  Archbishop  was  made  a  Cardinal,  Salinas  accom- 
panied him  to  Rome,  where  he  spent  thirty  years  in 
studying  the  works  of  Boetius,  and  the  writings  of 
the  ancient  Greek  harmonicians.  He  afterwards  re- 
turned to  Spain,  hoping  to  spend  the  remainder  of 
his  days  in  his  native  country  ;  but  at  the  end  of 
three  years,  he  was  recalled  into  Italy,  and  afterwards 
invited  to  Salamanca,  as  professor  of  music,  on  a 
liberal  salary.  He  was  an  excellent  composer  for 
the  organ  and  other  instruments,  and  was  much  es- 
teemed by  persons  of  rank,  particularly  by  Pope 
Paul  the  Fourth,  through  whose  favour  he  was  created 
Abbot  of  St.  Pauciato  de  la  Rocca  Salegna,  in  the 
kingdom  of  Naples.  He  died  in  the  month  of  Febru- 
ary, 1590,  at  the  advanced  age  of  seventy-seven  years. 

He  wrote  a  treatise,  "  De  Musicd,"  which  is  divided 
into  seven  books.  In  the  Jirsf,  he  treats  only  of  the 
different  methods  of  calculating  the  ratios  of  sound. 
In  the  eighth  and  ninth  chapters  of  the  second  book 

OF    SALINAS.  207 

he  contends,  against  the  musicians  of  his  time,  that 
the  diatessaron,  or  fourth,  is  a  concordant  interval ; 
the  diatone  and  semidiatone  he  ranks  among  the  con- 
sonances. The  author  then  proceeds  to  explain  how 
the  lesser  intervals  are  produced.  In  the  nineteenth 
chapter  of  the  second  book,  is  contained  the  descrip- 
tion of  an  instrument,  invented  by  Salinas,  for  de- 
monstrating the  ratios  of  the  consonances,  and  also  of 
the  lesser  intervals.  In  the  third  book,  he  treats  of 
the  genera  of  the  ancients,  ^Yith  so  much  learning  and 
sagacity,  that  Dr.  Pepusch  has  declared  that  the  true 
enharmonic,  vthich  for  many  ages  had  been  supposed 
lost,  was  in  this  work  accurately  determined.  Sa- 
linas, in  another  part  of  his  work,  shews  the  method 
of  constructing  what  he  calls,  *'  the  type  of  the  diato- 
nic." He  next  treats  of  the  temperament  of  the  organ 
and  other  instruments,  and  makes  some  interesting 
observations  on  the  powers  of  the  human  voice;  he 
then  speaks  of  the  lute  and  the  viol,  and  of  the  tem- 
peraments best  adapted  to  each.  In  the  tenth  chap- 
ter of  the  fourth  book  there  is  a  diagram,  representing, 
in  a  collateral  view,  the  tetrachords  of  the  ancients 
conjoined  with  the  hexachordsof  Guido,  shewing  how 
the  latter  spring  out  of  the  former ;  the  ancient  divi- 
sion of  the  genera  into  the  species  is  afterwards  no- 
ticed. In  a  subsequent  chapter,  he  exposes  the  errors 
of  Aristoxenus,  in  a  manner  very  different  both  from 
Ptolemy  and  Boetius.  The  last  subject  treated  of  by 
him,  is,  the  Rhythmus  of  the  ancients;  and  he  en- 
ters into  a  copious  dissertation  on  the  various  kinds  of 
metre  used  by  the  Greeks  the  Roman,  and  the  Spa- 
nish poets. 


208  THE   LIFE 

Of  this  work  it  may  be  sufficient  to  say,  that  a 
greater  degree  of  credit  is  due  to  it,  than  to  almost 
any  other  production  of  modem  writers,  of  the  same 
kind.  The  author  was  a  practical,  as  well  as  a  theo- 
retical, musician  ;  and,  throughout  the  whole  of  his 
book,  he  manifests  a  disposition,  the  farthest  removed 
that  can  possibly  be  imagined,  from  that  credulity 
which  betrayed  Glareanus  and  others  into  error.  This 
disposition  led  him  to  enquire  accurately  and  minutely 
into  the  doctrines  of  the  Greek  writers;  and,  from  the 
confidence  with  which  he  sometimes  blames  them, 
we  are  led  into  the  persuasion  that  the  truth  was  on 
his  side. 


Sir  John  Hawkins's  History  of  Music,  vol.  4. — Dr.  Bdr- 
ney's  History  of  Music,  vol.  3. — Musical  Biography, 

OF    WILSON.  209 




"Then,  while  on  Britain's  thousand  plains, 
One  unpolluted  Church  remains, 
Whose  peaceful  bells  ne'er  sent  around 
The  bloody  tocsin's  maddening  sound, 
But  still  upon  the  hallowed  day, 
Convoke  the  swains  to  praise  and  pray.'' 

It  is  humiliating  to  the  pride  of  man  to  trace  the 
helplessness  of  his  nature,  hut  at  the  same  time  grati- 
fying to  consider  the  goodness  of  providence,  in  the 
provision  made  for  his  wants  and  infirmities.  In  no 
situation,  perhaps,  is  this  better  exemplified,  than  in 
the  case  of  those  who,  like  the  subject  of  this  memoir, 
condemned  to  perpetual  darkness,  are  left  to  grapple 
with  the  difiiculties  of  life,  and  to  make  their  way 
through  its  mazy  windings,  under  a  privation  which, 
of  all  others,  is  the  most  appalling. 

Thomas  Wilson  was  born  on  the  6th  of  May, 
1750,  and  lost  his  eye  sight  by  the  small  pox,  at  so 

210  THE   LIFE 

early  an  age,  as  to  have  no  subsequent  recollection  of 
ever  having  gazed  on  the  external  world.     When  a 
child,  like  other  boys,  he  was  very  fond  of  visiting  the 
venerable  mid-steeple  of  Dumfries ;  and,  at  the  age 
of  twelve,  was  promoted  to  the  office  of  chief  ringer. 
Being  of  industrious  habits,  he  also,  after  much  labour 
and  perseverance,  succeeded  in  gaining  a  pretty  cor- 
rect notion  of  the  trade  of  a  wood  turner,  which  en- 
abled him  to  support  himself,  without  becoming  a 
burden  to  any  one,  and  honest  Thomas's  Beetles  and 
Spurtles  are  still  held  in  high  repute,  by  the  good 
wives  of  both  town  and  country.     Although  this  busi- 
ness requires  a  considerable  number  of  tools,  he  had 
them  so  arranged,  that  he  could,  without  the  least 
difficulty,   take   from   his   shelf  the   particular   one 
he  might  be  in  want  of,  and  was  even  able  to  sharpen 
them  himself  when  necessary.    He  moreover  excelled 
in   the  culinary  art,   cooking  his  victuals  with  the 
greatest  nicety ;  and  priding  himself  on  the  architec- 
tural skill  he   displayed  in  erecting  a  good  ingle  or 
fire.     In  his  domestic  economy,  he  neither  had,  nop 
required  an  assistant.     He  fetched  his  own  water, 
made  his  own  bed,  cooked  his  own  victuals,  planted 
and  raised  his  own  potatoes ;  and,  what  is  more  strange 
still,  cut  his  own  peats,  and  was  allowed  by  all  to 
keep  as  clean  a  house,  as  the  most  particular  spinster 
in  the  town.     Among  a  hundred  rows  of  potatoes,  he 
easily  foutid  the  way  to  his  own ;  and,  when  turning 
peats,  walked  as  carefully  among  the  hags  of  lochar 
moss,  as  those  who  are  in  possession  of  all  their  facul- 
ties.    At  raising  potatoes,  or  any  other  odd  job,  he 
was  ever  ready  to  bear  a  hand ;  and  when  a  neigh- 

OF   WILSON.  211 

bour  became  groggy  on  a  Saturday  night,  it  was  by  no 
means  an  uncommon  spectacle  to  see  Tom  conducting 
him  home  to  his  wife  and  children. 

As  a  mechanic,  he  was  more  than  ordinarily  inge- 
nious, and  with  his  own  hands  made  a  lathe,  with 
which  he  was  long  in  the  habit  of  turning  various  arti- 
cles, both  of  ornament  and  general  utility.  In  making 
cocks  and  pails  for  brewing  vessels,  potatoe  beetles, 
tin  smith's  mallets,  and  huckster's  stands,  for  all  the 
country  round,  blind  Tom  was  quite  unrivalled.  Many 
a  time  he  has  been  seen  purchasing  a  plank  on  the 
sands,  raising  it  on  his  shoulders,  even  if  ten  feet  long, 
and  carrying  it  to  his  house,  without  coming  in  con- 
tact with  obstruction  on  the  way.  He  also  constructed 
a  portable  break  for  scutching  lint,  which  he  mounted 
on  a  nice  little  carriage,  by  the  means  of  which  he 
readily  transported  himself  to  any  farm  house  where 
his  services  were  required.  His  sense  of  touch  was 
exceedingly  acute,  and  he  took  great  pleasure  in  visit- 
ing the  work-shops  of  ingenious  tradesmen,  and  hand- 
ling any  curious  article  they  had  formed.  At  the 
time  the  Scotch  Regalia  were  recovered,  the  good  old 
man  seemed  quite  beside  himself  with  joy;  and  never, 
to  the  last,  did  he  cease  to  regret,  that  circumstances 
prevented  him  from  visiting  Edinburgh,  and  feeling 
the  ancient  crown  of  Scotland. 

After  his  appointment  as  chief  ringer  in  the  mid- 
steeple  of  Dumfries,  blind  Tom's  first  visit  every  morn- 
ing was  to  the  bell-house ;  and  he  tripped  up  stairs 
with  as  much  agility  and  confidence  as  if  he  had  pos- 
sessed the  clearest  vision,  generally  inserting  the  key 
into  its  proper  place  at  the  first  trial.    Never  was  a 

SI  2  THE    LIFE 

ringer  more  punctual ;  for  more  than  half  a  century 
Tom  was  at  his  post  three  times  a  day,  without,  we 
believe,  a  single  omission,  at  the  very  minute  re- 
quired, whether  the  clock  pointed  right  or  no.  The 
coldest  morning,  or  the  darkest  night  in  winter,  foul 
or  fair,  sunshine  or  storm,  were  all  one  to  Tom,  and 
though  sluggards  might  excuse  themselves  on  the 
score  of  the  weather,  his  noisy  clapper  never  failed  to 
remind  them  that  there  was,  at  least,  one  man  in  the 
town  up  and  at  his  duty.  Indeed,  such  was  his  punc- 
tuality, that  he  was  never  known  to  commit  a  mistake 
except  once,  by  ringing  the  bell  at  eleven,  instead  of 
ten  at  night.  A  friend  calculated,  that  he  had  rung 
the  bell  more  than  one  hundred  thousand  times.  The 
lapse  of  sixty  years  produces  many  changes  on  men 
and  things,  and  it  may  be  mentioned  as  a  curious 
proof  of  the  progi'essive  rise  of  the  wages  of  labour, 
that  his  salary  at  first  was  only  thirty  shillings  yearly; 
it  was  then  advanced  to  two  pounds;  from  two  to  three, 
three  to  five,  five  to  ten,  and  so  on,  till  at  last  he 
received,  what  to  him  was  a  little  independency,  the 
high  salary  of  t^venty  pounds  per  annum. 

About  fifteen  years  before  his  death,  the  mid-steeple 
was  thoroughly  repaired,  and  a  splendid  new  weather 
cock  substituted  in  the  place  of  the  former  old  and 
clumsy  one.  This  was  a  great  event  to  blind  Tom  ;  the 
steeple  was,  in  a  great  measure,  his  domicile,  and  he 
who  had  so  much  to  do  with  the  base,  could  not  be  in- 
attentive to  the  capital.  Up,  therefore,  he  would  go  to 
the  top ;  and  though  repeatedly  warned  against  the 
danger  he  would  incur,  he  actually  accomplished  the 
perilous  enterprize,  threw  his  arms  round  the  bonny 

OF   WILSON.  213 

bird,  and  bestowed  on  him  a  benediction  to  this  effect; 
that  he  might  long,  long  continue  to  indicate  as 
truly  the  four  winds,  as  he  himself  indicated  the 
time  of  day.  On  rejoicing  days,  during  the  war, 
the  bell-man  was  ever  forward  to  evince  his  loyalty, 
by  mounting  the  bastion  of  the  steeple,  and  discharge- 
ing  an  old  rusty  fowling  piece  which  he  kept  for  the 
purpose.  During  the  life  time  of  George  III.,  Tom 
was  a  most  loyal  subject ;  every  returning  fourth  of 
June,  he  made  it  his  constant  practice  to  ascend  to 
what  are  called  the  high  leads  of  the  steeple,  and  there 
fired  several  roimds  in  honour  of  his  Majesty's  natal 
day ;  performing  the  operations  of  priming  and  load- 
ing with  admirable  precision. 

The  knowledge  he  possessed  of  every  part  of  the 
town  and  neighbourhood  of  Dumfries  was  truly  won- 
derful; he  could  walk  to  any  quarter  of  the  town,  with- 
out ever  deviating  in  the  least  from  his  route,  and, 
indeed,  has  been  known  to  take  strangers  to  places 
they  were  in  quest  of,  with  the  utmost  exactness. 
Being  much  in  the  streets,  he  was  often  employed  as 
a  guide,  and  many  laughable  stories  are  told  of  the 
astonishment  of  persons  whom  he  has  conducted  to 
the  very  extremities  of  the  town,  or  even  a  good  way 
into  the  country,  on  discovering  that  they  had  been 
led  by  a  blind  man.  His  local  knowledge  was  indeed 
very  great,  and  his  memory  retentive  to  an  uncom- 
mon degree.  Once  he  had  occasion  to  call  at  a  shop, 
and  in  crossing  the  threshold,  it  was  remarked  that 
he  paused,  and  lifted  his  foot  very  high.  On  this  he 
was  told  there  was  no  step,  but  the  old  man's  memory 
was  very  faithful,   and   he   immediately   remarked. 

214  THE   LIFE 

''^  just  four  and  twenty  years  ago,  I  was  in  this  shop, 
and  I  am  gye  sure  there  was  a  step  then."  At  another 
time,  returning  home  one  evening,  a  little  after  ten 
o'clock,  he  heard  a  gentleman,  who  had  just  alighted 
from  the  mail,  enquiring  the  way  to  Colin,  and  Tom 
instantly  offered  to  conduct  him  thither.  His  ser- 
vices were  gladly  accepted,  and  he  acted  his  part  so 
well  that,  although  Colin  is  three  miles  from  Dum- 
fries, the  stranger  did  not  discover  his  guide  was  blind, 
until  they  reached  the  end  of  their  journey. 

Tom  was  also  as  well  acquainted  with  persons  as 
with  places ;  if  he  heard  any  one  speak,  although  he 
might  not  have  met  the  individual  for  some  time,  yet 
he  soon  recognized  him  by  his  voice,  when  his  usual 
remark  was,  '*  Eh  !  mon,  'tis  iang  sin  I've  seen  ye." 
If  he  was  asked  the  hour,  such  was  his  fine  sense  of 
feeling  that,  on  touching  the  hands  of  his  watch,  he 
could  inform  himself  in  a  mom.ent. 

Tom  Wilson  and  another  blind  man  in  Dumfries, 
in  order  to  beguile  their  leisure  hours,  contrived  to  in- 
vent a  game  somewhat  similar  to  draughts,  with  which 
they  very  often  amused  themselves ;  and  it  was  quite 
a  treat  to  hear  them,  in  a  dark  corner,  discussing  the 
probable  issue  of  the  game,  and  sometimes  detecting 
each  other  in  a  false  move. 

Blind  Tom  had  a  taste  for  music,  and  was  particu- 
larly fond  of  attending  concerts ;  for  many  years  he 
was  a  member  of  a  musical  institution,  where  the  in- 
nocent cheerfulness  of  his  manners,  and  his  hearty 
laugh  when  any  thing  arose  to  please  him,  rendered 
his  presence  always  acceptable. 

The  death  of  this  honest  and  really  ingenious  man 


OF   WILSON.  215 

happened  in  a  very  melancholy  way,  on  the  12th  of 
March,  1825.  On  that  night  heing  in  the  helfry,  he  was 
struck  with  something  like  an  apoplectic  fit,  and  stag- 
gering^, as  it  was  supposed,  against  an  old  chest  which 
cut  his  head  slightly,  sunk  on  the  floor,  and  remained 
all  night  in  this  forlorn  and  pitiable  situation,  without 
a  friend  to  help  him.  For  some  time  previously,  a 
person  had  assisted  him  in  ringing  the  bells  on  Sun- 
days, and  when  this  individual  visited  the  steeple,  at 
seven  o'clock  in  the  morning,  he  had  to  force  the 
inner  door  of  the  belfry,  before  the  fate  of  the  de- 
ceased could  be  ascertained.  Though  he  still  breathed, 
he  was  unable  to  speak,  and  was  immediately  carried 
to  his  home,  in  a  state  of  utter  insensibility.  Thus 
died  poor  Thomas  Wilson,  the  oldest  bell  ringer,  we 
believe,  in  Scotland,  and  who,  for  the  long  period  of 
sixty  three  years,  summoned  the  lieges  to  labour  and 
repose,  with  all  the  regularity  of  the  clock  itself. 


Dumfries  Paper. 

216  THE    LIFE 




"  O'erwhelra'd  in  darkness,  and  depriv'd  of  sight 
Thro'  all  his  life  t'was  one  continued  night." 

We  have  now  to  record  the  powers  of  another  of 
the  hlind,  who,  though  he  had  no  claim  to  the  ge- 
nius of  poesy,  nor  ever  expatiated  in  the  regions  of  phi- 
losophy, yet  by  the  delicacy  of  touch,  arrived  at 
unexampled  perfection  in  the  execution  of  various 
pieces  of  mechanism,  which,  in  others,  would  require 
all  the  aid  of  sight.  The  best  account  of  his  extraor- 
dinary progress  in  mechanics,  is  to  be  found  in  his 
own  simple  narrative,  which  the  author  of  this  article 
procured  from  his  dictation. 

*^  I  was  born  near  Banbridge,  in  the  county  of  Down, 
in  the  year  1768,  and  lost  my  sight  at  the  age  of 
four  years.  Having  no  other  amusement,  (being  de- 
prived of  such  as  children  generally  have,)  my  mind 
turned  itself  to  mechanical  pursuits  j  and  I  shortly  be- 

OF    KENNEDY.  217 

came  projector  and  workman  for  all  the  children  in 
the  neighbourhood.  As  I  increased  in  years,  my  de- 
sire  for  some  kind  of  employment  that  might  render 
me  not  burthensome,  though  blind,  induced  me  to 
think  of  music  ;  and,  at  the  age  of  thirteen,  I  was  sent 
to  Armagh^  to  learn  to  play  the  fiddle.  My  lodging 
happened  to  be  at  the  house  of  a  cabinet  maker  ;  this 
was  a  fortunate  circumstance  for  me,  as  I  there  got 
such  a  knowledge  of  the  tools,  and  manner  of  working, 
as  has  been  useful  to  me  ever  since.  Though  these 
things,  ■  however,  engaged  my  mind,  and  occupied  a 
great  part  of  my  time,  yet  T  made  as  decent  a  progress 
in  music  as  any  other  of  Mr.  Moorhead's  scholars,  ex- 
cept one.  After  living  a  year  and  a  quarter  there,  I 
returned  home,  where  I  made,  or  procured  tools,  so  as 
to  enable  me  to  construct  household  furniture. 

'*  Not  being  satisfied  with  the  occupation  of  cabinet 
maker,  I  purchased  an  old  set  of  Irish  bagpipes,  but, 
without  instruction,  it  was  with  difficulty  that  I  put 
them  into  playing  order.  I  soon,  however,  became 
so  well  acquainted  with  the  construction  of  them,  that 
instruments  were  brought  to  me  from  every  part  of  the 
neighbourhood  to  be  n^paired.  I  found  so  many  defects 
in  this  instrument,  that  I  began  to  consider  whether 
there  might  not  be  a  better  form  of  it  than  any  I  had 
yet  met  with  ;  and,  from  my  early  instruction  in  mu- 
sic, and  continual  study  of  the  instrument,  (for  indeed 
I  slept  but  little,)  in  nine  months  time  (having  my 
tools  to  make,)  I  produced  the  first  new  set.  I  then 
began  with  clock  and  watch  making,  and  soon  found 
out  a  clock  maker  in  Banbridge,  who  had  a  desire 
to  learn  to  play  on  the  pipes,  and  we  mutually  in- 

218  THE    LIFE 

striicted  each  other.  From  this  time  I  increased  in 
musical  and  mechanical  knowledge,  hut  made  no  more 
pipes,  though  I  repaired  many,  until  the  year  1793, 
when  I  married,  and  my  necessities  induced  me  to  use 
all  my  industry  for  the  maintenance  of  my  wife  and 
increasing  family.  My  employment,  for  twelve  years, 
was  making  and  repairing  wind  and  stringed  instru- 
ments of  music.  I  also  constructed  clocks,  hoth  com- 
mon and  musical,  and  sometimes  recurred  to  my  first 
employment  of  cahinet  maker.  I  also  made  linen 
looms,  with  their  different  tackling.  My  principal  em- 
ployment, however,  is  the  construction  of  the  Irish 
hagpipes,  of  which  T  have  made  thirty  sets  in  the  little 
town  I  live  in,  within  these  eight  years  past." 

Thus  ends  the  simple  sketch  of  the  life  of  William 
Kennedy,  in  his  own  unadorned  style.    The  modesty 
of  our  hlind  mechanic  has  prevented  him  from  enlarg- 
ing on  several  points,  which  I  shall  here  beg  leave  to 
notice,  illustrative  of  his  ingenuity  as  an  improver  of 
this  instrument.     In  this  respect,  indeed,  he  deserves 
the   character  of  an  inventor,  as  his  additions  to  the 
Irish   pipes  will  do  away  with  many  of  their  imper- 
fections; and  his  invention  has  the  great  merit  of  sim- 
plicity,   for  the   management  of  the   instrument   is 
nearly  as  easy  now  as  formerly.     To  the  chaunter  he 
has   added  keys,   by  which  some  flats  and    sharps, 
not  capable  of  being  before  expressed  on  the  instru- 
ment, are  now  produced  with  ease.     He  has  also  ad- 
ded E  in  alt.,  being  one  note  above  the  original  com- 
pass of  the  instrument.     Two  additional  notes  are 
given  by  him  to  the  organ  stop,  and  some  of  its  notes 
are  now  capable   of  being  varied   from   naturals  to 




sharps,  according  to  the  key  in  which  the  time  is 
plaved.  The  basses,  or  drones,  as  they  are  commonly 
called,  were  formerly  only  in  correct  tune  when  play- 
ing in  some  particular  keys,  but  are  now  so  constructed 
that  their  notes  can  be  varied,  as  the  key  varies  in 
which  the  tune  is  played.  There  is  also  another 
alteration  worthy  of  notice,  made  by  the  addition  of 
two  large  keys  managed  with  the  wrist,  and  a  part 
of  the  basses,  or  all  of  them,  can  be  stopped  or  opened 
at  pleasure.  The  full  particulars  of  these  most  ingenious 
alterations  would,  however,  require  terms  too  technical 
to  be  introduced  here ;  in  short,  this  blind  mechanic, 
at  the  time  this  account  was  written,  was  unequalled 
in  the  elegance  of  his  workmanship,  and  the  perfec- 
tion of  his  scale,  in  our  favourite  national  instrument. 
Having  first  formed  his  lathe  and  tools,  from  a  rude 
block  of  ebony,  a  fragment  of  an  elephant  s  tooth,  and 
a  piece  of  silver,  he  shapes  and  bores  the  complicated 
tubes,  graduates  the  ventage,  adapts  the  keys,  and 
forms  an  instrument  of  perfect  external  finish  and  beau- 
ty, '*  that  produces  most  eloquent  music,"  capable  of 
expressing  the  finest  movements  in  melody,  and  by  no 
means  deficient  in  harmony.  All  this  is  accomplished 
by  the  exquisite  sensibility  of  touch,  for  he  is  stone 
blind,  and  quite  incapable  of  distinguishing  the  black 
colour  of  ebony,  from  the  white  of  ivory.  Under 
poverty,  therefore,  and  physical  privation  of  the  most 
overwhelming  kind,  he  has  gradually  raised  his  me- 
chanical powers  to  such  an  extraordinary  degree  of 


Belfast  Monthly  Magazine,  vol.  1st. 







"  While  in  more  lengthen'd  notes  and  slow, 
The  deep  and  solemn  organs  blow," 

The  propensity  of  persons  who  have  had  the 
misfortune  to  be  denied  the  blessing  of  siglit,  to  cul- 
tivate the  science  of  music,  is  well  known  to  every 
one  of  the  least  observation.  With  this  propensity  is 
often  combined,  an  extraordinary  genius  for  mecha- 
nics ;  and  few  have  possessed  both  in  a  greater  degree, 
than  the  individual  whose  history  I  am  now  about  to 
present  to  my  readers. 

Joseph  Strong  was  born  in  1732,  at  Cummersdale, 
a  village  about  two  miles  from  Carlisle,  where  his 
father  had  a  small  estate.  He  lost  his  sight  by  the 
small  pox,  when  he  was  about  four  years  of  age.  He 
very  early  discovered  a  genius  for  music,  and  a  me- 
chanical talent  likewise;  and,  while  yet  a  mere  child, 

OF    STRONG.  221 

he  made  himself  a  kind  of  fiddle,  of  two  or  three  jjieces 
of  wood.    When  a  little  older,  his  father  hought  him 
what  is  called  a  kit,*  and  placed  him  under  a  master 
at  Carlisle,  to  be  instructed  in  the  use  of  that  instru- 
ment.    He  afterwards  made  a  hell  harp,  and  soon 
learnt  to  play  upon  it.    He  then  proceeded  to  a  flute, 
and  a  hautboy,  and  after  this  his  great  ambition  was 
to  build  an  organ.    The  disposition  of  the  keys  he 
learnt  from  the  spinet,  but  he  was   at  a  loss  how  to 
construct  the  other  parts  of  an  organ,  and  was  very 
desirous  of  examining  that  in  the  cathedral.     The 
following  circumstance  affords  a  striking  instance  of 
his  ingenuity  and  perseverance,  by  means  of  which  he 
contrived  to  manufacture  every  thing  he  thought  worth 
possessing.     At  the  age  of  fifteen,  he  one  afternoon 
concealed  himself  in  the  cathedral  of  Carlisle,  during 
the  time  of  divine  service,  and  when  the  congregation 
had  retired,  and  the  gates  were  shut,  he  proceeded  to 
the  organ  loft,  and  examined  every  part  of  the  instru- 
ment.    He  was  thus  occupied  till  about  midnight, 
when,  having  satisfied  himself  respecting  the  general 
construction,  he  began  to  try  the  tone  of  the  different 
stops,  and  the  proportion  they  bore  to  each  other. 
This  experiment,  however,  could  not  be  concluded  so 
silently  as  the  business  which  had  before  engaged  his 
attention  ;  the  neighbourhood  was  alarmed,   and  vari- 
ous were  the  conjectures  as  to  the  cause  of  the  noctur- 
nal music,  but  at  length  some  persons  mustered  courage 

« A  kit  is  a  small  fiddle,  which  is  put  into  the  hands  of 
children  of  eight  or  tea  years  old,  on  which  they  take  their 
first  lessons  in  music. 


222  THE    LIFE 

sufficient  to  go  and  see  what  was  the  matter,  and 
Joseph  was  found  playing  the  organ.  The  next  day 
he  was  sent  for  by  the  dean,  who,  after  reprimanding 
him  for  the  method  he  had  taken  to  gratify  his  curi- 
osity, gave  him  permission  to  play  whenever  he  pieased. 
He  now  set  about  building  his  first  organ,  and  at 
length  completed  it,  though  not  altogether  to  his  sa- 

Not  long  after,  he  went  to  London  on  foot,  with 
his  mother  for  his  guide.  By  means  of  Dr.  Brown,  he 
was  introduced  to  Mr.  Stanley,  who  received  him 
with  great  kindness,  and  offered  to  teach  him  music, 
if  he  would  stay  with  him,  but  he  could  not  bear  the 
thought  of  entirely  leaving  his  native  country.  In 
London,  also,  he  became  acquainted  with  an  organ 
builder,  who  gave  him  some  instructions  in  his  art,  by 
the  help  of  which  he  built  a  second  organ,  after  his 
return  home,  much  more  complete  than  the  former  ; 
after  that  he  constructed  a  third  still  more  perfect,  and 
sold  it  to  a  gentleman  in  the  Isle  of  Man. 

The  next  piece  of  mechanism  which  he  produced 
was  a  weaver's  loom,  in  which  he  succeeded  so  well, 
that  he  made  weaving  his  principal  employment  ever 
after.  His  loom  differed  from  those  in  common  use, 
and  had  several  contrivances,  which  it  is  not  necessary 
to  notice  here.  Whenever  a  thread  broke,  either  in  the 
weft  or  the  woof,  he  could  discover  it  almost  instantly, 
and  set  it  right  again,  as  expeditiously  as  any  other 
weaver.  He  not  only  could  weave  plain  cloth,  but 
plush,  damask,  &c.  the  latter,  however,  he  only  did  by 
way  of  amusement,  the  former  he  applied  to  as  a  trade, 
by  which  he  was  enabled  to  support  himself  and  family 


OF    STRONG.  223 

He  was  accustomed  to  go  about  the  city  with  no  other 
guide  than  a  stick,  and  to  frequent  several  places  in 
the  country,  where  he  had  many  fields  to  pass  through, 
stiles  to  go  over,  and  ditches  to  cross  upon  narrow 
planks;  which  he  did  without  ever  losing  his  way,  or 
meeting  with  any  accident.  Till  within  a  few  months 
of  his  death,  he  was  a  constant  attendant  at  the  cathe- 
dra], but  not  being  able  to  accompany  the  choir  in 
chanting  the  psalms,  he  composed  several  hymns 
adapted  to  the  music,  which  he  substituted  as  an  act 
of  private  devotion,  during  the  performance  of  that 
part  of  the  public  service.  It  is  not  known  whether 
these  effusions  were  preserved,  which  certainly  pos- 
sessed some  interest  on  account  of  the  motive  by  which 
they  were  dictated ;  and  for  obtaining  which,  he 
afforded  ample  opportunity,  as  they  generally  con- 
stituted a  portion  of  his  musical  performances  before 
strangers,  and  were,  indeed,  that  part  in  which  he 
seemed  to  take  the  greatest  pleasure.  Mr.  Strong  was 
married  at  the  age  of  twenty-five,  and  had  several 
children.  He  died  at  CarHsle,  in  March,  1798,  in 
his  sixty- sixth  year. 


Dr.  Alcock's  Memoirs. — Eccentric  Mirror,  vol.  2ud. — Rees' 

224  ANECDOTES,    &c. 



"  What  time  in  God,  and  freedom's  holy  cause, 
^^"allace  and  Bruce  opposed  a  tyrant's  laws." 

Henry,  the  minstrel,    commonly  called  "  blind 
Harry,"  was  an  ancient  Scottish  writer  distinguished 
by  no  particular  surname,  but  well  known  as    the 
author  of  an  historical  poem,  in  ten  books,   reciting 
the  achievements  of  Sir  William  Wallace.      This 
poem  continued  for  several  centuries  to  be  in  great 
repute,  but  afterwards   sunk  into  neglect,  until  very 
lately,   when  it   was  recovered  from  obscurity,   and 
a   very  neat  and  coiTect  edition    was  published   at 
Perth,  under  the  inspection  and  patronage  of  the  Earl 
of  Buchan.    This  poet  was  born  in  1361,  and  lost  his 
sight  in  infancy.     We  are  entirely  ignorant  of  the 
family  from  which  Harry  was  descended  ;  but  from  his 
writings,  we  should  be  led  to  suppose  that  he  had  re- 
ceived a  liberal  education,  as  he   displays  in  them 
some  knowledge  of  divinity,  classical  history,  and  as- 
tronomy, as  well  as  of  the  languages.  In  one  place  he 
boasts  of  living  in  a  state  of  celibacy,  which  seems  to 
indicate  that  he  was  connected  with  some  of  the  re- 
ligious orders  of  that  age.     From  what  Major  says 

OF   THE    BLIND.  225 

further  of  him,  we  may  suppose  his  profession  to  have 
been  that  of  a  travelling  bard,  though  it  does  not  ap- 
peartthathe  was  skilled  in  music.  His  having  been 
blind  from  his  birth,  makes  this  circumstance  the 
more  probable,  which  would  not  be  inconsistent  with 
the  supposition  of  his  being  also  a  religious  men- 
dicant. "The  particulars,"  says  Major,  "  which  he 
heard  related  by  the  vulgar,  he  wrote  in  vulgar  verse, 
in  which  he  excelled.  By  reciting  his  histories  before 
princes  and  great  men,  he  gained  his  food  and  rai- 
ment, of  which  he  was  worthy."  It  is  thus  probable, 
that  he  would  be  a  frequent  visitor  at  the  Scottish 
court ;  and  would  be  made  welcome  by  those  great 
families,  who  could  boast  of  any  alliance  with  the  hero 
of  his  song,  or  took  pleasure  in  hearing  related  his  ex- 
ploits, and  those  of  his  companions.  The  same  in- 
extinguishable thirst  of  blood,  which  Homer  ascribes 
to  his  hero  Achilles,  is  imputed  by  the  author  to 
Wallace;  though,  in  all  probability,  the  mind  of 
Wallace  was  too  much  enlightened  to  have  indulged  in 
such  cruelties.  A  great  degree  of  courage  and  personal 
strength  are  also  attributed  to  him,  and  the  glory  of 
the  successful  exploits  of  the  whole  army  transferred 
to  him  alone  ;  as  long  as  he  is  invested  with  the 
command,  the  Scots  are  victorious  and  irresistible; 
when  he  is  deprived  of  it,  they  are  enslaved  and  un- 
done. Among  the  many  lively  passages  descriptive 
of  Wallace's  heroism  and  amor  patriae,  the  "Battle 
of  Biggar,"  is  one  of  the  happiest  examples  to  be  met 
with  in  the  poem. 

"Now  Biggar's  plains  with  armed  men  are  crown'd, 

And  shining  lances  glitter  all  around; 

226  ANECDOTES,  &C. 

The  sounding  horn  and  clarion  all  conspire 

To  raise  the  soldier's  breast,  and  kindle  up  his  fire. 

So  Triton,  when  at  Neptune's  high  command, 

He  heaves  the  swelling  surge  above  the  land; 

When  with  full  breath,  he  bids  the  tempest  roar, 

And  dash  the  sounding  billows  to  the  shore; 

His  angry  waves  the  wrinkled  seas  deform. 

They  rise,  they  roar,  and  blacken  to  the  storm. 

Each  eager  soldier  seized  his  ready  shield. 

Drew  the  fierce  blade,  and  strode  along  the  field ; 

The  blackening  wings  extend  from  left  to  right, 

Condense  the  war  and  gather  to  the  fight! 

Now  rose  the  battle, — there  the  warriors  tend, 

A  thousand  deaths  on  thousand  wings  ascend ; 

Swords,  spears,  and  shields,  in  mixed  confusion  glow. 

The  field  is  swept,  and  lessens  at  each  blow. 

Wallace's  helm,  distiuguished  from  afar. 

Tempests  the  field,  and  floats  amid  the  war; 

Imperious  death  attends  upon  the  sword, 

And  certain  conquest  waits  her  destined  Lord  ! 

Fierce  in  another  quarter,  Kent  employs 

The  wrathful  spear,  nor  fewer  foes  destroys. 

Where'er  he  conquering  turns,  recedes  the  foe, 

Aud  thicken'd  troops  fly  open  to  his  blow; 

His  bounding  courser  thund'riug  o'er  the  plain, 

Bears  his  fierce,  rapid  Lord  o'er  hills  of  slain  ! 

Scarce  can  the  weak  retreating  Scots  withstand 

The  mighty  sweep  of  the  invader's  hand. 

Wallace  beheld  h'n,  fainting  squadron  yield, 

Aud  various  slaughter  spread  along  the  field- 

Furious  he  hastes  and  heaves  his  orbed  shield, 

Resolv'd  in  arms  to  meet  his  enemy  ; 

Before  his  spear  they  run,  they  rush,  they  fly  ! 

And  now  in  equal  battle  met  the  foes, — 

Long  lasts  the  combat,  and  resound  their  blows ; 

Their  dreadful  faulchions  brandishing  on  high. 

In  wary  circles  heighten  to  the  sky. 

Now  all  is  death  and  wounds; — the  crimson  plain 

Floats  round  in  blood,  and  groans  beneath  its  slain; 


OF   THE    BLIND.  22T 

Promiscuous  crowds  one  common  ruin  share, 
And  death  alone  employs  the  wasteful  war; 
They  trembling  fly,  by  conquering  Scots  opprest, 
And  the  broad  ranks  of  battle  lie  defaced  ; 
A  false  usurper  sinks  in  everj'  foe, 
And  liberty  returns  with  every  blow  !" 

The  following  extracts,  being  the  last  mournful  scene 
between  Wallace  and  his  wife,  possess,  I  think,  some 
poetical  merit. 

"But  various  cares  solicitate  my  breast. 
Invade  my  heart,  and  rob  my  soul  of  rest; 
While  to  my  drooping  mind's  prophetic  eyes, 
A  thousand  griefs  in  fatal  prospect  rise! 
Methinks  I  view  the  cruel  raging  foes 
End  that  dear  life  and  finish  all  my  woes, — 
Methinks  I  see  that  sacred  blood  now  spilt, 
To  fill  up  Hesilrig's  black  scene  of  guilt ; 
And  now,  to  save  thee  from  the  coming  blow, 
And  shield  thee  from  the  malice  of  the  foe, 
1  have  prepared,  of  youth  a  chosen  band, 
Ready  to  march,  whene'er  thou  shalt  command. 
Some  well  built  tower,  an  hospitable  seat. 
Shall  prove  from  war's  alarms,  a  safe  retreat ; 
There,  nor  the  battle's  voice  shall  wound  thine  ear, 
Nor  the  fierce  spoiler,  black  with  guilt,  appear; — 
There  may  thy  constant  prayers  bless  my  sword. 
And  waft  thy  kindest  wishes  to  thy  Lord, 
Till  circling  time  bring  back  the  happy  day. 
When  Scotland  shall  be  free  from  English  sway. 
Till  her  extended  plains  be  called  her  own, 
And  yet  a  Scottish  king  ascend  a  Scottish  throne!" 
*■  But  say,  in  vain  is  all  this  flow  of  tears. 
Fantastic  passion,  a  weak  woman's  fears ; 
Yet  with  her  Wallace  let  his  consort  go, 
Join  with  his  ills,  sad  partnership  of  woe ! 

228  ANECDOTES,    &C. 

Or  if  propitious  Heaven  shall  deign  to  smile, 
With  faithful  love  reward  my  hero's  toil. 
What  though  my  tender  nerves  refuse  to  bend 
The  twanging  yew,  and  the  fleet  dart  to  send; 
Round  thy  distinguished  tent,  yet  will  I  stay, 
And  wait  impatient  the  decisive  day, 
When  freedom  on  thy  helm,  shall  crested  stand, 
Kor  fortune  linger  with  her  doubtful  hand. 
But  let  the  war's  rude  shock  assault  my  ears — 
The  woman,   Wallace,  shall  throw  off  her  fears. 
Then  take  me  with  thee,  whate'er  chance  betide, 
Firm  to  thy  cause,  and  honest  I'll  abide; 
Nor  let  me  mourn  alone,  when  I  am  left 
Of  thee,  and  every  joy  with  thee  bereft!" 
"Cease,  cease  !"  he  cried,  "  nor  urge  a  vain  relief, 
Nor  by  thy  ling'riug  doubts  increase  my  grief." 


Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  vol.  18,  Edinburgh,  1797. — 
Blind  Harry's  Life  of  Wallace,  A  Poem,  Perth  Edition. — 
Warton's  History  of  English  Poetry,  vol.  1. — Miss  Porter's 
Scottish  Chiefs,  vol.  1. 



Very  little  is  known  of  the  history  of  William 
Jamieson.  It  appears,  from  the  (ew  facts  we  have  heen 
able  to  collect  from  contemporary  writers,  that  he  was 
a  native  of  Renfrewshire,  in  Scotland,  and  blind  from 
his  infancy.  Crawford,  in  his  history  of  this  county, 
mentions  a  number  of  its  distinguished  natives,  and, 
among  the  rest,  the  subject  of  this  memoir,  of  whom 

OF    THE    BLIND.  229 

he  wriles  ;  "  near  the  house  of  Barochan,  and  within 
that  barony,  was  born  the  learned  Mr.  William  Ja- 
mieson,  preacher  of  the  gospel,  and  also  professor  of 
History,  in  the  University  of  Glasgow,  who  was  a 
miracle  of  learning,  considering  he  was  deprived  of  the 
sense  of  sight  from  his  birth,  and  his  works  afford 
sufficient  proof  of  his  being  a  very  able  scholar." 

Woodrow,  in  his  history  of  the  church  of  Scotland, 
in  speaking  of  the  martyrdom  of  that  christian  patriot, 
the  Earl  of  Argyle,  pays  a  very  handsome  compli- 
ment to  the  learning  and  talents  of  professor  Jamieson. 
We  give  the  passage  as  we  find  it. 

**Let  me  conclude  with  observing  that  the  Earl 
was  so  full  of  composure,  and  the  thoughts  of  his 
death  were  so  easy  to  him,  that  the  day  before  his 
execution,  he  wrote  some  very  pleasing  and  affecting 
lines,  as  his  own  epitaph.  This  epitaph,  of  the  Earl's 
own  composing,  was  turned  into  Latin  elegiacs,  by  the 
reverend  and  learned  Mr.  William  Jamieson,  preacher 
of  the  gospel,  and  History  Lecturer  in  the  University 
of  Glasgow,  my  dearest  and  much  honoured  friend; 
and  they  have  so  much  of  the  spirit  of  the  original 
lines  in  them  that  I  have  likewise  added  them,  with 
two  lines  of  his  own,  which  fell  from  him  when  trans- 
lating them,  as  a  just  debt  he  owed  to  this  great  man. 
Though  they  were  written  in  the  days  of  his  youth 
a  little  after  the  Earl's  death,  I  am  persuaded  he  needs 
not  be  ashamed  of  them  in  his  advanced  years,  and 
after  he  hath  favoured  the  world,  and  defended  the  in- 
terests of  religion,  and  the  church  of  Scotland,  by  his 
learned  and  valuable  performances. 



Watts,  in  his  "  Bibliotheca  Britannica,"  thus  refers 
to  him;  ''  several  hooks  are  mentioned  as  written  hy 
him,  all  on  the  subject  of  the  Episcopal  controversy. 
He  carried  on  a  controversy  also  with  Mr.  Robert  Cal- 
der,  an  Episcopal  curate,  who  wrote  with  great  bitter- 
ness and  some  talent." 

That  most  excellent  Divine,  the  Rev.  Matthew 
Henry,  makes  mention  of  our  blind  professor.  At 
the  time  he  wrote,  the  more  wealthy  of  the  English 
dissenters  sent  their  children,  particularly  those  that 
were  intended  for  the  ministry,  to  some  one  of  the 
Scotch  Universities  for  their  education ;  among  these 
was  the  Rev.  Dr.  Benzon,  the  intimate  friend  of  Mr. 
H.jfrom  whose  writings  the  following  passage  is  taken. 
''In  June  1695,  Dr.  B.  went  to  the  college  of  Glasgow. 
Among  the  learned  men  of  that  University,  Mr. 
Jamieson,  History  Professor  there,  did  correspond 
with  him.  That  wonderful  man  is  quite  blind,  and 
has  been  so  from  his  birth  ;  and  yet,  as  appears  by 
the  learned  works  he  has  published,  he  is  a  most 
accomplished  scholar,  and  very  ready  and  exact  in 
his  quotations  of  authors.'' 

Extracts  from  the  Minutes  of  the  ''  Senatus  Acade- 
micus"  of  the  University  of  Glasgow.  *'May  30, 
1692.  The  Faculty  this  day  taking  into  consideration 
the  condition  of  Mr.  WiUiam  Jamieson,  who  though 
born  blind,  yet  having  been  educated  at  this  univer- 
sity, hath  attained  to  great  learning,  and  particularly 
is  well  skilled  in  history,  both  civil  and  ecclesiastical ; 
and  having  no  estate  to  subsist  upon,  the  Faculty 
considering  that  he  may  be  useful  in  these  sciences 
they  have  thought  fit  to  allow  to  the  said  Mr.  William 


OF    THE    BLIND.  231 

Jamieson,  two  hundred  marks  Scots  per  annum,  for 
two  years,  commencing  from  the  first  of  April  last; 
the  said  Mr.  W.  J.  employing  himself  according  to 
his  capacity,  at  the  discretion  of  the  Faculty." 

'^  December  29,  1692.  The  Faculty  determined  that 
Mr.  William  Jamieson  have  a  public  lecture  in  civil 
history,  once  a  week,  on  the  Thursdays,  at  three  of 
the  clock  in  the  afternoon,  in  the  Common  Hall." 

We  conclude  this  article  with  the  following  extract, 
from  the  preface  of  a  work  entitled,  "The  defence  of 
the  Church  of  Scotland,"  printed  in   1713. 

"I  therefore  earnestly  wish,  that  the  pastors  of  the 
Kirk  of  Scotland  would  spend  more  time  in  explaining 
this  controversy,  especially  in  their  catechetical  dis- 
courses, and  confirm  from  Scripture  the  Presbyterian 
principles,  and  confute  the  adversaries.  This  I  earn- 
estly wish  were  done  in  a  grave  way  and  clear  style, 
for  it  certainly  would  be  of  great  use,  especially  to  the 
common  people.  It  would  also  be  of  great  advantage 
to  give  from  the  pulpit  now  and  then,  calmly  and 
plainly,  a  deduction  of  God's  mercies  unto  this  land, 
by  delivering  us  from  spiritual  Babylon,  Rome.  We 
find  in  Scripture,  that  the  prophets  and  godly  Jews 
did  spend  much  time  in  relating  historically  the  de- 
liverance that  God  gave  to  Israel,  from  the  Egyptians 
and  other  enemies,  and  I  am  persuaded  that  in  this 
our  Pastors  ought  to  imitate  them;  it  would  do  much 
to  carry  down  the  sense  of  God's  mercies  from  fathers 
to  children,  and  from  generation  to  generation." 

"  In  the  third  place,  I  earnestly  desire  my  readers, 
that  they  be  earnest  in  prayer,  and  wait  closely  on 
God,  that  they  have  not  only  a  form  of  godliness 


but  also  that  they  may  know  and  feel  the  power  of  it. 
Knowledge  is  but  cold  and  barren  though  a  man  would 
reason  never  so  strongly,  without  charity  or  the  love 
of  God  shed  abroad  in  the  heart ;  the  greatest  measure 
of  knowledge  alone,  will  never  make  a  man  to  take  the 
spoiling  of  his  goods  with  joy,  or  not  to  love  his  life 
unto  the  death.  At  a  word,  knowledge  without  godly 
warmth,  only  puffs  up,  and  doeth  little  in  the  day  of 
adversity;  and  zeal  without  knowledge,  is  ready  to 
drive  a  man  to  error^  but  not  to  establish  him  in  the 


Crawford's  History  of  Renfrewshire,  page  102. — Wood  row's 
History  of  the  Church  of  Scotland,  vol.  4,  page  307. — Watts's 
Bibliotheca  Britannica,  Page  760,  of  qiaarto  edition  of  Mat- 
thew Henry's  Miscellaneous  Writings,  printed  forBagster,  Lon- 


DAVID   Mc.    BEATH, 


This  ingenious  and  very  interesting  person  was 
born  at  Dalkeith,  in  1792.  He  lost  his  sight  at  an 
early  age,  by  a  severe  disease,  which  so  enfeebled  his 
frame,  that  his  stature,  appearance,  and  voice,  con- 
tinued to  the  last  to  be  those  of  a  mere  youth.     His 

OF    THE    BLIND.  233 

abilities  were  great,  and  his  mind  was  cultivated  far 
beyond  what  is  common  to  his  rank  in  society.  He 
had  a  powerfully  inventive  genias,  as  is  exemplified 
by  his  inventing  a  mode  of  communication  for  the 
blind,  by  means  of  a  string  alphabet,  which  is  now  used 
in  the  Asylum  at  Glasgow,  and  elsewhere.  It  was  con- 
sidered, by  the  learned  editors  of  the  "  Edinburgh 
Philosophical  Journal,"  of  such  importance  as  to  de- 
mand a  full  description  in  that  work.  He  also  con- 
trived a  board  for  the  study  of  music,  arithmetic,  and 
also  of  algebra,  and  other  branches  of  the  mathema- 
tics. His  success  as  a  teacher  of  his  companions  in 
misfortune,  was  great  indeed,  and  frequently  called 
forth  the  approbation  of  the  public  in  Edinburgh,  at 
the  various  examinations  which  took  place  year  after 
year,  of  the  pupils  in  the  Asylum.  He  had  the  sa- 
tisfaction of  sending  one  of  them  to  Glasgow,  as 
teacher  in  the  Asylum  there,  who  has  been  since 
distinguished  by  his  exertions.  Two  others  were 
established  in  America,  in  the  same  capacity,  in 
flourishing  schools  for  the  blind,  recently  instituted. 
They  were  selected  by  a  gentleman  sent  to  Europe  for 
that  purpose,  who  visited  all  the  institutions  for  the 
blind,  that  in  Edinburgh  being  the  last.  The  news- 
paper press,  (perhaps  little  aware,  at  that  time,  of  the 
important  and  valuable  results  that  were  to  arise  from 
the  full  accounts  given  of  the  examinations  in  Edin- 
burgh,) has  been  the  means  of  calling  forth  christian 
benevolence,  both  in  Great  Britain,  and  on  the  con- 
tinents of  Europe  and  America  ;  and,  while  the  pub- 
lications gratified  those  immediately  concerned,  they 
have  been  the  means  under  divine  providence,  of  difiE'u. 


sing  a  spirit  of  pure  philanthropy,  which  can  never  be 
abused  or  misdirected  ;  rescuing  a  valuable  portion  of 
suffering  humanity  from  a  state  of  misery  and  indi- 
gence, and  exchanging  their  sad  condition  for  one  of 
comfort  and  benefit,  both  as  to  time  and  eternity. 
David  Mc.  Beath  died  in  Edinburgh,  on  the  7th  of 
November,  1834,  in  the  42nd  year  of  his  age. 

The  following  short  account  of  his  curious  contri- 
vance, (the  string  alphabet,)  may  not  be  uninteresting 
to  the  reader.     The  twenty-six  letters  of  the  alphabet 
are  divided  into  seven  classes,  proceeding  from  A  to 
Z ;  each  class  consists  of  four  letters,  with  the  ex- 
ception of  the  last,  which  comprehends   only  two. 
The  first  four  letters.  A,  B,  C,  D,  are  each  formed 
by  a  large  round  knot ;  the  second  four,  E,  F,  G,  H, 
by  a  knot  projecting  from  the  string ;  the  third,  I,  J, 
K,  L,  by  a  knot  vulgarly  called  the  drummer's  plait ; 
the  fourth,  INI,  N,  O,  P,  by  a  simple  noose  ;  the  fifth, 
Q,  R,  S,  T,  by  a  noose  with  the  string  drawn  through 
it ;  the  sixth,  U,  V,  W,  X,  by  a  noose  with  a  netting 
knot  formed  upon  it ;  and  the  seventh  class,  Y  and  Z, 
by  a  twisted  noose.     Thus  there  are  seven  different 
kinds  of  knots  to  indicate  all  the  letters  of  the  alpha- 
bet; but,  to  distinguish  each  of  the  four  letters  in  a 
class  from  the  others,  the  expedient  is  adopted  of  ad- 
ding a  common   small  knot,  at  a  greater  or  less  dis- 
tance from  the  letter  to  which  it  belongs.     By  this 
plan,  the  letter  A  is  indicated  only  by  the  knot  of  the 
class  to  which  it  belongs  ;  B  is  the  same  knot  repeat- 
ed, but  close  to  it  is  a  small  common  knot ;  C  is  the 
same  knot  repeated,  with  the  small  knot  half  an  inch 
distant ;  and  D  is  the  same  knot  repeated,  with  the 

OF   THE    BLIND.  235 

small  knot  an  inch  distant.  The  same  plan  goes  on 
throughout,  so  that  by  first  feeling  the  kind  of  knot, 
and  then  feeling  whether  it  has  a  small  knot  attached, 
and  at  what  distance,  any  letter  may  he  instantly 
told.  The  length  of  the  string  alphabet  is  little  more 
than  three  feet,  and  any  blind  person,  with  the  ordi- 
nary sense  of  touch,  may  learn  the  whole  iii  an  hour. 


Scottish    Guardian,  November  7,  1834. Chambers's 

Edinburgh  Journal,  April,  1834. 



Who  nas  slain  in  the  memorable  Battle  of  Cressy,  August  26,  1346. 

"  The  Prince  succeeds,  and,  on  the  brazen  prow, 
The  noble  Edward  raised  his  princely  brow  ; 
In  sable  arms  he  marched,  while  o'er  his  head, 
Bohemia's  triple  plume  its  glories  shed, 
Soft  as  the  new-formed  wreath  of  Alpine  snow, 
White  as  the  feath'ry  surge  that  foams  below. 
The  sword  that  widowed  France  on  Cressy's  day. 
Again  to  conquest  cuts  its  wonted  way.''^ 

Swift  says,  that  "  blindness  is  an  inducement  to 
courage,  because  it  hides  from  us  the  danger  which  is 
before  us."  How  far  the  Dean  may  be  right  in  his 
opinion,  I  shall  not  pretend  to  judge,  but  that  blind 
men  possess  this  virtue,  (if  a  virtue  it  may  be  called,) 


as  much  as  any  of  those  endowed  with  sight,  may  be 
inferred  from  the  following  anecdote. 

Many  of  them  have  braved  all  the  dangers  of  the 
field,  in  some  of  the  greatest  battles  that  ever  were 
fought  in  Europe,  viz.  the  siege  of  Constantinople,  by 
the  Venetians ;  the  battle  of  Falkirk ;  and  the  me- 
morable battle  of  Cressy.  This  last  engagement  com- 
menced at  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  and  continued 
till  night  put  an  end  to  the  carnage.  The  greater 
part  of  the  nobility  of  France  and  Germany  fell  in 
the  contest;  and,  among  the  slain  were  two  kings, 
James  of  Majorca,  and  John  of  Bohemia.  The  death 
of  the  latter,  who  had  for  a  long  time  been  blind,  was 
attended  by  some  remarkable  circumstances.  Anx- 
ious to  know  how  the  battle  proceeded,  he  commanded 
his  attendants  to  lead  him  forward  ;  for  this  purpose,  he 
was  placed  between  two  of  them,  their  bridles  being 
tied  to  his,  so  that  in  the  heat  of  the  action  they  might 
not  be  separated,  and  next  morning  they  were  all  three 
found  dead  together.  Barnes,  in  his  life  of  Edward 
III.,  gives  a  more  particular  account  of  the  circum- 
stance than  any  other  historian  I  have  met  with,  and 
I  will  give  it  in  his  own  words. 

'*  Marquess  Charles,  emperor  elect,  resisted  the 
prince  with  great  courage ;  but  his  banner  being 
beaten  to  the  ground,  his  men  slaiu  about  him,  and 
himself  wounded  in  three  places,  he  turned  his  horse 
and  rode  out  of  the  field,  though  not  without  much 
difficulty,  having  cast  away  his  coat-armour,  that  he 
might  not  be  known.  Meanwhile,  his  father,  John, 
King  of  Bohemia,  now  blind  with  age,  when  he  un- 
derstood how  the  day  was  like  to  go,  asked  of  his  cap- 

OF    THE    BLIND.  237 

tains,  what  was  become  of  the  lord  Charles,  his  son; 
they  told  him,  they  knew  not,  but  that  they  sup- 
posed him  somewhere  in  the  heat  of  action.  Then 
the  good  old  king,  resolving  by  no  means  to  disgrace 
his  former  victories,  or  to  cancel  the  glory  of  his  youth 
by  a  degenerate  old  age,  said  unto  them  : — 'Gentle- 
men, you  are  men,  my  companions  and  friends  in  this 
expedition ;  I  only  now  desire  this  last  piece  of  service 
from  you,  that  you  would  bring  me  forward  so  near  to 
these  Englishmen,  that  I  may  deal  among  them  one 
good  stroke  with  my  sword.'  They  all  said,  they 
would  obey  him  to  the  death,  and  lest  by  any  extremity 
they  should  be  separated  from  him,  they  all,  with  one 
consent,  tied  the  reins  of  their  horses  one  to  another, 
and  so  attended  their  royal  master  into  battle.  There 
this  valiant  old  hero  had  his  desire,  and  came  boldly 
up  to  the  Prince  of  Wales,  and  gave  more  than  one, 
four,  or  five  good  strokes,  and  fought  courageously, 
as  also  did  all  his  lords,  and  others  about  him ;  but 
they  engaged  themselves  so  far,  that  they  were  all 
slain,  and  next  day  found  dead  about  the  body  of  their 
king,  and  their  horses'  bridles  tied  together.  Then 
were  the  arms  of  that  noble  king,  (being  the  ostrich 
feathers,  with  the  motto,  "  Ich  Dien,"  signifying,  I 
serve,)  taken  and  worn  by  the  Prince  of  Wales,  in 
whose  memory  they  have  been  ever  since  called  the 
Prince's  arms  ;  being  also  from  that  time  worn  by  his 
successors,  the  Princes  of  Wales,  eldest  sons  of  the 
Kings  of  England." 


Barnes's  Life  of  Edward  the  IIL — Hume's  England,  vol.  ii. 




The  following  interesting  anecdotes  are  related  by 
Dr.  Abercrombie.  In  speaking  of  the  blind,  he  ob- 
serves ;  "  There  is  something  exceedingly  remarkable 
in  the  manner  in  which  the  loss  or  diminution  of  one 
sense,  is  followed  by  increase  of  the  intensity  of  others, 
or  rather,  perhaps,  by  an  increased  attention  to  the 
indications  of  the  other  senses.  Blind  persons  acquire 
a  wonderful  delicacy  of  touch  ;  in  some  cases,  it  is 
said,  to  the  extent  of  distinguishing  colours.  Two  in- 
stances have  been  related  to  me,  of  blind  men  who 
were  much  esteemed  as  judges  of  horses.  One  of 
these,  in  giving  his  opinion  of  a  horse,  declared  him 
to  be  blind,  though  this  had  escaped  the  observation 
of  several  persons  who  had  the  use  of  their  eyes,  aud 
who  were  with  some  difficulty  convinced  of  it.  Being 
asked  to  give  an  account  of  the  principle  on  which  he 
had  decided,  he  said  it  was  by  the  sound  of  the  horse's 
step  in  walking,  which  implied  a  peculiar  and  unusual 
caution  in  the  manner  of  putting  down  his  feet.  The 
other  individual,  in  similar  circumstances,  pronounced 
ahorse  to  be  blind  with  one  e3'e,  though  this  had  also 
escaped  the  observation  of  those  concerned.  When 
he  was  asked  to  explain  the  facts  on  which  he  formed 
his  judgment,  he  said,  he  felt  the  one  eye  to  be  colder 
than  the  other. 

'^  Dr.  Rush  relates  another  instance,  not  less  extra- 
ordinary, of  acuteness  in  the  sense  of  hearing.  Two 
blind  young  men,  brothers,  of  the  city  of  Philadelphia, 
knew  when  they  approached  a  post  in  walking  across 

OF   THE    BLIND.  239 

a  street,  by  a  peculiar  sound,  which  the  ground  under 
their  feet  emitted  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  post 
and  they  could  tell  the  names  of  a  number  of  tame 
pigeons,  with  which  they  amused  themselves  in  a 
little  garden,  by  only  hearing  them  fly  over  their 


Abercrombie  on  the  Intellectual  Powers,  p.  52,  3. 



Perhaps  one  of  the  greatest  curiosities  in  the  city 
of  Augsburgh,  is  a  bookseller,  of  the  name  of  Wim- 
precht,  who  had  the  misfortune  to  be  born  blind,  but 
whose  enterprising  spirit  has  enabled  him  to  struggle 
successfully  against  the  melancholy  privation  he  is 
doomed  to  sustain,  and  to  procure,  by  his  industry 
and  intelligence,  a  respectable  and  comfortable  sup- 
port for  a  large  family,  dependent  upon  him.  His 
stock  consists  of  more  than  8,000  volumes,  which  are 
subject  to  frequent  change  and  renewal.  When  he 
receives  new  books,  the  particulars  of  each  are  read  to 
him  by  his  wife,  and  his  discrimination  enables  him 
to  fix  its  value  ;  he  recognises  it  by  his  touch,  at  any 
future  period,  however  distant,  and  his  memory  never 
fails  him,  in  regard  to  its  arrangement  in  his  shop. 
His  readiness  to  obHge,  his  honesty,  and  information 
on  books  in  general,  have  procured  him  a  large  cus- 
tom; and  under  such   extraordinary  natural  disad- 


vantages,  he  has  become  a  useful  and,  probably,  will 
become  a  wealthy  member  of  the  community  to  which 
he  belongs. 


A  London  Newspaper. 


OF    THE 


"  While  in  more  lengthen'd  notes  and  slow, 
"The  deep,  majestic,  solemn  organs  blow." 

In  the  beginning  of  the  year  1751,  Handel  was 
alarmed  by  an  affection  in  his  eyes,  which,  upon  con- 
sulting the  surgeon,  he  was  told  was  a  cataract.  From 
that  moment,  his  usual  flow  of  spirits  forsook  him, 
and  scarcely  left  him  patience  during  that  crisis  of  his 
disorder  in  which  he  might  hope  for  relief.  He  had 
been  prepared  to  expect  a  total  privation  of  sight,  but 
was  led  to  entertain  hopes  that  it  might  only  prove 
temporary,  and  that,  by  an  operation,  it  might  be 
rei.ored;  when,  therefore,  a  total  loss  of  sight  had 
taken  place,  he  submitted  to  an  operation,  which  was 
performed  by  Mr.  Samuel  Sharp,  of  Guy's  Hospital. 
The  repeated  attempts  that  were  made  to  relieve  him. 

OF    THE    BLIND.  241 

were,  however,  fruitless ;  and  he  was  at  length  told, 
that  for  the  remainder  of  his  days,  a  relief  from  pain 
in  his  visnal  organs,  was  all  that  could  be  hoped  for. 
In  this  forlorn  and  dejected  state,  reflecting  on  his 
inability  any  longer  to  conduct  his  own  oratorios,  he 
called  to  his  aid  Mr.  Smith,  the  son  of  his  faithful 
copyist  and  friend,  and,  with  his  assistance,  they  con- 
tinued to  be  performed,  until  the  Lent  season  in 
which  he  died.  They  were  got  up,  with  no  other 
omission  in  his  own  performance,  than  the  accom- 
paniment on  the  harpsichord  ;  the  rich  flow  of  his 
fancy  ever  supplying  him  with  subjects  for  extempore 
voluntaries  on  the  organ,  and  his  hand  still  retaining 
the  power  of  executing  whatever  his  invention  sug- 
gested. It  was  a  most  affecting  spectacle,  to  see  the 
venerable  musician,  whose  genius  had  so  long  charmed 
the  ear  of  a  discerning  audience,  led  to  the  front  of 
the  stage,  in  order  to  mate  an  obeisance  of  acknow- 
ledgment to  the  enraptured  multitude.  When  Smith 
played  the  organ,  during  the  first  year  of  Handel's 
blindness,  the  oratorio  of  "  Sampson"  was  performed, 
and  Beard  sang,  with  great  feeling — 

"  Total  eclipse  !  No  sun,  no  moon; 
All  dark  amidst  the  blaze  of  noon!" 

The  recollection  that  Handel  had  set  these  words  to 
music,  with  the  view  of  the  blind  composer,  then 
sitting  by  the  organ,  aflected  the  audience  so  forcibly, 
that  many  persons  present  were  moved  even  to  tears. 
The  loss  of  his  sight,  and  the  prospect  of  his  ap- 
proaching dissolution,  made  a  great  change  in  the 
temper  and  general  behaviour  of  Handel.  He  was  a 


man  of  blameless  morals,  and,  throughout  his  whole 
life  had  manifested  a  deep  sense  of  the  importance  of 
religion ;  in  conversation,  he  would  frequently  speak 
of  the  pleasure  that  he  had  experienced  in  setting  the 
words  of  the  Sacred  Scriptures  to  music,  and  how 
much  some  of  the  sublime  passages  in  the  Psalms  had 
contributed  to  his  comfort  and  satisfaction  :  but  now, 
when  he  found  himself  drawing  near  the  close  of  his 
mortal  state,  these  sentiments  were  improved  into 
solid  and  rational  piety,  accompanied  by  a  calm  and 
undisturbed  mind.  Towards  the  beginning  of  the 
year  1758,  he  found  himself  fast  declining;  and  the 
general  debility  which  had  seized  him,  was  rendered 
still  more  alarming  by  an  almost  total  loss  of  appetite. 
When  the  latter  symptom  appeared,  he  considered 
his  recovery  as  entirely  hopeless;  and,  resigning  him- 
self into  the  hands  of  his  Creator,  he  expired  on  the 
14th  of  April,   1759,  in  the  76th  year  of  his  age. 


Musical  Biography,  vol.  2. 


"  Men,  by  wbom  impartial  laws  were  given." 

Dr.  Nicholas  Bacon  was  descended  from  the 
same  family  with  the  celebrated  Lord  Verulam ;  he 
was  deprived  of  sight  at  nine  years  of  age,  by  an  ar- 
row from  a  cross-bow,  with  which  he  was  attempting 

OF    THE    BLIND.  243 

to  shoot.  When  he  recovered  his  health,  which  had 
suffered  from  the  accident,  he  continued  the  same  plan 
of  education  which  he  had  before  commenced ;  and, 
having  heard  that  one  Kicasius  cle  Vourde,  born 
blind,  who  lived  towards  the  end  of  the  15th  century, 
after  having  distinguished  himself  in  his  studies  at 
the  University  of  Louvain,  had  taken  his  degree  as 
D.D.  in  that  of  Cologne,  he  himself  resolved  to  make 
the  same  attempt.  But  his  friends  treated  his  inten- 
tion with  ridicule,  and  even  the  professors  themselves 
were  not  far  from  the  same  sentiment ;  for  they  ad- 
mitted him  into  their  schools,  rather  under  an  im- 
pression that  he  might  amuse  them,  than  that  they 
should  be  able  to  communicate  much  information  to 
him.  He  had  the  good  fortune,  however,  contrary  to 
their  expectations,  to  obtain  the  first  place  among  his 
fellow-students.  They  then  said,  that  such  rapid  ad- 
vances might  be  made,  in  the  preliminary  branches  of 
education,  but  that  they  would  soon  be  effectually 
checked,  in  studies  of  a  more  profound  nature.  This 
opinion,  it  seems,  was  reiterated  through  the  whole 
range  of  his  pursuits,  and  when,  in  the  course  of 
academical  learning,  it  became  necessary  to  study  the 
art  of  poetry,  it  was  declared  by  the  general  voice, 
that  all  was  over,  and  that  at  length  he  had  reached 
his  ne  plus  ultra  ;  but  here  he  likewise  disproved 
their  prejudices,  and  taught  them  the  immense  differ- 
ence between  blindness  of  the  intellect  and  blindness 
of  the  bodily  organs.  After  continuing  his  studies  in 
learning  and  philosophy  for  two  years  longer,  he  ap- 
plied himself  to  law^  and  took  his  degree  in  that  science 
at  Brussels.  He  then  commenced  as  a  pleading  coim- 


sellor,  or  advocate,  in  the  council  of  Brabant,  and  had 
the  pleasure  of  terminating  almost  every  suit  in  which 
he  engaged,  to  the  satisfaction  of  his  clients. 


Encyclopaedia  Britannica. 



Nathaniel  Price,  was  a  bookseller  at  Norwich, 
who,  giving  up  business  in  that  city,  went  out  with 
goods  to  a  considerable  amount,  from  London  to 
America.  On  his  voyage  thither,  he  lost  his  sight  in 
consequence  of  a  severe  cold,  and  having  suffered 
much  distress  and  fatigue,  he  at  length  returned  to 
his  native  country,  after  an  absence  of  nearly  five 

This  remarkable  man  could  make  every  part  of  his 
dress,  from  the  shoes  on  his  feet,  to  the  hat  upon  his 
head.  After  his  loss  of  sight,  he  followed  the  em- 
ployment of  a  bookbinder,  and  bound  several  books 
in  the  first  style  ;  being  the  first  instance  of  a  blind 
man  who  was  capable  of  such  an  employment.  As  a 
proof  of  his  abilities,  there  is  a  quarto  Bible,  elegantly 
bound  by  him,  now  in  the  JMarquis  of  Blandford's 
library,  at  Sion-hill,  in  Oxfordshire.  Strange  as 
this  may  appear,  to  those  unacquainted  with  the  ex- 
traordinary capabilities  possessed  by  many  of  the 
blind,  this  account  has  been  confirmed  by  several  res- 
pectable people,  with  whom  the  author  is  acquainted, 
and  in  whose  veracity  the  reader  may  place  implicit 

OF    THE    BLIND.  245 


The  following  account  of  Blind  Macgiiire,  is  no  less 
wonderful  than  true,  and  will  show  that  the  privation 
of  sight  does   not    always   impede    the    exercise   of 
mechanical  skill.     ''The  late  family   tailor   of  Mr. 
M'Donald,  of  Clanronald,  in  Invernesshire,  lost  his 
sight  fifteen  years  before  his  death,  yet  he  still  con- 
tinued to  work  for  the  family  as  before,  not  indeed 
with  the  same  expedition,  but  with  equal  correctness. 
It  is  well  known  how  difficult  it  is  to  make  a  Tartan 
dress,  because  every  stripe  and  colour  (of  which  there 
are  many,)  must  fit  each  other  with  mathematical 
exactness ;  hence,  even  very  few   tailors,  who  enjoy 
their  sight,  are  capable  of  executing  that  task.    Blind 
Macguire  having  received  orders  to  make  for  his  mas- 
ter's brother,  who  had  lately  returned  from  India,  a 
complete  suit  of  Tartan  within  a  given  time,  proceeded 
to  work  without  delay.     It  so   happened,   that  that 
gentleman  passed  at  a  late  hour,  at  night,  through  the 
room  where  the  blind  tailor  was  working,  and  hearing- 
some  low  singing,  he  asked,  'Who's  there?'  To  which 
the  poor  blind  tailor  answered,  'I  am  here,  working  at 
your  honour's  hose  !'  '  How,'  said  he,  forgetting  that 
Macguire  was  blind,  'can  you  work  without  a  candle  ?' 
O  !  pie  ase   your   honour,'  rejoined  the  tailor,  'mid- 
night darkness  is  the  same  to  me  as  noon-day  !' ''     It 
was  said  that  Macguire  could,  by  the  sense  of  touch, 
distinguish  all  the  colours  of  the  Tartan. 


Philosophical  Transactions  of  the  Royal  Society, 




" From  theme  to  theme,  my  ■wandering  muse,  retire; 
And  the  dumb  shew  of  breathing  rocks  admire  .' 
Where  the  smooth  chisel  all  its  force  has  shewn. 
And  softened  into  flesh  the  rugged  stone." 

The  following  anecdote  respecting  John  Gouelli, 
surnamed  "  the  Blind  of  Cambassi/'  from  the  place 
of  his  birth,  in  Tuscany,  is  taken  from  the  article 
*'  Blind,"  in  the  Edinburgh  Encyclopaedia.  "  He 
was  a  scholar  of  Pietro  lacca,  and  discovered  some 
genius,  but  he  lost  his  sight  at  the  age  of  twenty 
years.  The  statue  of  Cosmo,  the  first  Grand  Duke 
of  Tuscany,  was  sculptured  by  him  after  he  became 
blind,  and  he  had  equal  success  in  various  other  works 
of  the  same  nature.  He  died  at  Rome,  under  the 
Pontificate  of  Urban  VIH." 

We  have  read  of  another  celebrated  blind  sculptor, 
who  took  the  likeness  of  the  Duke  of  Bracciano,  in  a 
dark  cellar,  by  means  of  moulding  the  face  with 
wax;  and  who  also  made  a  marble  statue  of  King 
Charles  I.  of  England,  of  great  elegance  and  just 


Edinburgh  Eucyclopaedia. 

OF   THE    BLIND.  247 



"  Music  hath  charms  to  soothe  the  savage  breast, 
Rend  the  rough  rocks,  and  bend  the  knotted  oak. 

If  we  look  back  to  former  periods,  we  shall  find 
illustrious  and  abundant  proofs,  how  amply  nature 
has  capacitated  the  blind  to  excel,  both  in  the  scien- 
tific and  practical  departments  of  music.  In  the  six- 
teenth century,  when  the  progress  in  musical  science 
was  rapid  and  conspicuous  in  almost  every  country  in 
Europe,  flourished  Caspar  Crumbhorn,  who  was 
blind  from  the  third  year  of  his  age  ;  yet  he  composed 
several  pieces  of  music  in  parts,  with  so  much  success, 
and  performed,  both  upon  the  flute  and  violin,  so 
exquisitely,  that  he  was  distinguished  by  the  favour 
of  Augustus,  elector  of  Saxony.  But,  preferring  his 
native  Silesia  to  every  other  country,  he  returned 
thither,  and  was  appointed  organist  of  the  church  of 
St.  Peter  and  St.  Paul,  in  the  city  of  Lignitz,  and 
likewise  had  the  chief  direction  of  the  Musical  Col- 
lege, in  that  place.  He  died  there  on  the  11th  of 
June,  1621. 

The  writer  of  the  article  *' Blind"  in  the  Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica,  speaking  of  this  musician,  and  of 
the  blind  in  general,  makes  the  following  remark ; 
which,  though  it  may  be  considered  somewhat  severe, 
is  not  altogether  out  of  place. 

*'To  these  individuals  might  be  added  Martini 
Pesenti,  of  Venice,  a  composer  of  vocal  and  instru- 


mental  music,  of  almost  all  kinds,  though  blind  from 
his  nativity ;  with  other  examples  equally  worthy  of 
pubhc  attention.  But  if  vulgar  prejudice  is  capable 
of  blushing  at  its  own  contemptible  character,  or  of 
yielding  to  conviction,  those  already  quoted  are  more 
than  sufficient  to  show  the  musical  jugglers  of  our 
times,  who  are  generally  as  absolute  strangers  to  learn- 
ing and  taste,  as  to  virtue,  that  their  art  is  no  mono- 
poly, with  which  those  who  see  are  alone  invested, 
by  the  irreversible  decree  of  Heaven." 


Sir  John  Hawkins's  History  of  Music,  vol.  4 — Dr.  Burney's 

History  of  Music,  vol.  3. 


and  other  anecdotes. 

"  Gold,  too  oft,  with  magic  art, 
Subdues  each  nobler  impulse  of  the  heart 

Blind  persons,  not  being  subject  to  have  their  at- 
tention distracted  by  the  number  of  objects  which 
the  sense  of  sight  presents,  must  have  the  senses  of 
hearing,  smelling,  and  feeling  more  refined  and  ex- 
quisite. This  we  find  confirmed  by  several  facts;  and 
we  may  add,  that  the  habit  of  exercising  one  sense, 
in  default  of  another,  makes  that  one  more  acute. 

It  is  said  of  a  person  born  blind  at  Puiseaux,  in 
France,  that  he  judged  of  the  fulness  of  vessels  by  the 
sound  of  the  liquors  while  they  were  decanted,  and  of 

OF    THE    BLIND.  249 

the  nearness  of  bodies  by  the  action  of  the  air  on  his 
face.  By  constant  practice  he  had  made  very  exact 
balances  of  his  arms,  and  almost  infallible  compasses 
of  his  fingers.  The  varieties  in  the  polish  of  bodies 
were  distinguished  by  him  with  great  facility,  and  he 
was  also  very  expert  in  perceiving  variations  in  the 
sound  of  the  voice.  He  judged  of  beauty  by  feeling, 
and  also  by  pronunciation  and  the  tone  of  voice.  He 
was  very  sure  of  the  exact  spot  from  whence  a  voice  or 
noise  came ;  it  is  reported,  that  he  once  had  a  quarrel 
with  his  brother,  whose  eye-sight  was  of  no  advantage 
to  him  in  avoiding  his  blows ;  and  that,  vexed  at  his 
taunts,  and  at  something  he  took  to  be  ill  usage,  he 
laid  hold  of  the  first  object  at  hand,  threw  it  at  him, 
struck  him  in  the  middle  of  the  forehead,  and  knocked 
him  down.  This  adventure,  and  some  others,  caused 
him  to  be  cited  before  the  Lieutenant  of  the  police, 
in  Paris,  where  he  then  lived.  The  external  signs  of 
power  that  aflfect  others  in  so  sensible  a  manner,  make, 
however,  no  impression  on  the  bHnd.  He  appeared 
before  the  magistrate,  as  before  his  equal,  and  his 
menaces  did  not  in  the  least  intimidate  him.  "What 
will  you  do  to  me?"  said  he  to  the  magistrate. 
*'  I  will  cast  you,"  answered  the  magistrate,  *'  into  a 
dungeon."  "  Ah  !  good  sir,"  said  the  blind  man,  "  I 
have  been  in  one  these  five  and  twenty  years  past." 

It  may  be  perhaps  thought  that  one  born  blind  has 
no  idea  of  vision.  Of  this  we  may  judge  by  the  an- 
swer of  the  same  blind  person,  when  asked,  ''  What 
are  eyes  ?"  "Eyes,"  said  he,  "  are  organs  on  which  the 
air  has  the  same  effect  as  my  stick  has  on  my  hand- 


This  is  so  true,"  added  he,  "  that,  when  I  place  my 
hand  between  your  eyes  and  an  object,  my  hand  is 
present  to  you,  but  the  object  is  absent.  The  same 
thing  happens  to  me,  when  I  seek  for  a  thing  with 
my  stick,  and  meet  with  another  thing."  He  defined 
a  looking-glass  to  be  a  machine  that  gives  things  an 
existence,  far  from  themselves,  if  placed  conveniently 
relatively  to  them.  "Just  as  my  hand,"  said  he, 
"which  I  need  not  place  near  an  object  in  order  to 
feel  it."  ''  How  many  renowned  Philosophers,"  says 
a  modern  author,  *'  have  shewn  less  subtility,  in  en- 
deavouring to  prove  the  truth  of  notions,  which  have 
been  equally  false  !" 

Some  blind  men  are  distinguished  by  peculiar  sa- 
gacity. One  of  this  character,  who  was  possessed  of 
two  hundred  guineas,  hid  them  in  a  corner  of  his 
garden  ;  but  a  neighbour,  who  had  taken  notice  of 
what  he  did,  dug  them  up  and  carried  them  away 
with  him.  The  blind  man,  not  finding  his  money, 
suspected  w^ho  w^as  the  thief.  What  did  he  do  to  obtain 
his  money  again  ?  He  went  to  his  suspected  neigh- 
bour, and  said  that  he  came  to  him  for  advice ;  that 
he  had  four  hundred  guineas,  the  half  of  which  he 
had  hidden  in  a  safe  place,  and  that  he  was  thinking 
with  himself,  whether  he  should  deposit  the  rest  in 
the  same  place.  The  neighbour  advised  him  to  do  so, 
and  conveyed  back,  in  all  haste,  the  two  hundred 
guineas  he  had  taken  away,  in  hopes  of  being  soon 
master  of  four  hundred.  But  the  blind  man  having 
found  his  money,  secured  it  eflfectually ;  and,  calling 
upon  his  neighbour,  told  him,  "  that  the  blind  saw 
more  clearly  than  he  did,  who  had  two  eyes." 

OF   THE    BLIND.  251 

Tho'  darkness  still  attends  me, 

It  aids  internal  sight ; 
And  from  such  scenes  defend  me, 

As  blush  to  see  the  light. 

No  weeping  objects  grieve  me; 

No  glittering  fop  offends ; 
No  fawning  smiles  deceive  me; 

Kind  darkness  me  befriends. 

Then,  cease  your  useless  wailings, 

I  know  no  reason  why  ; 
Mankind  to  their  own  failings, 

Are  all  as  blind  as  I. 

On  a  very  dark  night,  a  blind  man  was  seen  walking 
the  streets,  with  a  light  in  his  hand,  and  a  large  bot- 
tleful  of  some  liquor  on  his  hack.  Some  one  going 
along,  knowing  him,  and  surprised  at  the  hght,  said, 
"  What  a  simpleton  thou  art !  What  need  hast  thou 
of  a  light  ?  are  not  day  and  night  the  same  to  thee  ?' 
"  It  is  not  for  myself  that  I  carry  the  light,"  answered 
the  blind  man ;  *'it  is  rather  that  such  bodies  as  yours 
should  not  jostle  against  me,  and  break  my  bottle." 


The  Universal  Masrazine  for  1768. 


To  the  preceding  instances  we  may  add  that  of  the 
Count  de  Hagan,  who  was  born  in  the  beginning  of 
the  seventeenth  century.  Having  entered  the  army 
at  the  early  age  of  twelve  years,  he  lost  his  left  eye 


before  he  was  seventeen,  at  the  siege  of  Montauban ; 
he  still,  however,  pursued  his  i)rofession  with  unaba- 
ted ardour,  and  distinguished  himself  by  many  acts  of 
brilliant  courage.  At  last,  when  about  to  be  sent  into 
Portugal,  with  the  rank  of  Field  Marshal,  he  was 
seized  with  an  illness  which  deprived  him  of  sight  in 
his  remaining  eye.  He  was  yet  only  in  his  thirty- 
eighth  year,  and  he  determined  that  the  misfortunes 
he  had  already  sustained  in  the  service  of  his  coun- 
try, should  not  prevent  him  from  re-commencing  his 
public  career  in  a  new  character.  He  had  always 
been  attached  to  mathematics;  and  he  now  devoted 
himself  assiduously  to  the  prosecution  of  his  favourite 
study,  with  a  view,  principally,  to  the  improvement 
of  the  science  of  fortification,  for  which  his  great  ex- 
perience in  the  field  particularly  fitted  him.  During 
twenty  years  after  this,  which  he  passed  in  a  state  of 
total  blindness,  he  gave  a  variety  of  publications  to  the 
world;  among  which  may  be  mentioned,  besides  his 
well-known  and  important  work  on  fortification,  his 
"  Geometrical  Theorems"  and  his  "  Astronomical  Ta- 
bles." He  was  also  the  author  of  a  rare  book,  called, 
"  An  Historical  and  Geographical  Account  of  the 
River  of  the  Amazons  ;"  which  is  remarkable  as  con- 
taining a  chart,  asserted  to  have  been  made  by  him- 
self, after  he  became  blind.  It  is  said  not  to  be  very 
correct,  although  a  wonderful  production  for  such  an 

OF   THE   BLIND.  253 


One  of  our  most  ancient  English  Poets,   contemporaiij  with 
Chaucer,  and  his  intimate  friend. 

"But  age  has  rusted  what  the  Poet  -tvrit, 
Worn  out  his  language,  and  obscured  his  wit  ; 
In  vain  he  jests  in  his  unpolished  strain, 
And  tries  to  make  his  readers  laugh,  in  vain." 

Of  what  family,  or  in  what  county  this  poet  was 
born,  is  uncertain.  He  studied  the  law,  and  was 
sometime  a  member  of  the  Society  of  Lincoln's  Inn, 
where  his  acquaintance  with  Chaucer  began.  Some 
have  asserted  that  he  was  a  Judge,  but  this  is  by  no 
means  certain.  In  the  first  year  of  Henry  the  4th, 
he  became  blind,  a  misfortune  which  he  laments  in 
one  of  his  Latin  Poems.  He  died  in  the  year  1402, 
and  was  buried  in  the  church  of  Saint  Mary  Overie  ; 
which  he  had  rebuilt,  chiefly  at  his  own  expense,  so 
that  he  must  have  lived  in  affluent  circumstances. 
His  tomb  was  magnificently  and  curiously  ornamented 
and  it  still  remains,  but  has  been  repaired  in  latter 
times.  From  the  collar  of  S.  S.,  round  the  neck  o 
his  eflSgies  upon  the  tomb,  it  is  conjectured  that  he 
had  been  knighted.  As  to  his  character  as  a  man,  it 
is  impossible,  at  this  distance  of  time,  to  say  any 
thing  with  certainty.  With  regard  to  his  poetical 
talents,  he  was  certainly  admired  at  the  time  when  he 
wrote,  though  a  modern  reader  may  find  it  difficult  to 
discover  much  harmony  or  genius  in  any  of  his  com- 
positions. He  wrote  first,  Speculum  Meditantis,  in 
French,  in  ten  books ;  there  are  two  copies  of  this  in 
the  Bodleian  Library.  A  work  entitled  Vox  Cla- 


viantis,  in  Latin  verse,  in  seven  books,  is  also  preserved 
in  the  Bodleian  Library,  and  in  that  of  All  Souls;  it 
is  a  chronicle  of  the  insurrection  of  the  Commons,  in 
the  reign  of  Richard  the  2nd.  The  first  edition  of 
Confessio  Amantis,  was  printed  at  Westminster,  by 
Caxton,  in  1493;  and  the  second  and  third  editions 
were  printed  in  London,  in  the  years  1532,  and  1554. 
This  book  is  a  sort  of  practical  system  of  morality, 
interspersed  with  a  variety  of  moral  tales.  There  are 
several  historical  tracts  in  M  S.,  written  by  our  au- 
thor, which  are  to  be  found  ni  different  libraries;  also 
some  short  poems  printed  in  Chaucer's  Works. 


Encyclopaedia  Britannica. — Warton's  Historj'  of  English 




Didymus  is  known  to  us  only  as  a  theological  writer, 
but  we  are  informed  by  St.  Jerome,  who  was  his  pu- 
pil, that,  although  he  lost  his  sight  at  five  years  of 
age,  he  distinguished  himself  in  the  school  of  Alex- 
andria by  his  proficiency,  not  merely  in  grammar, 
rhetoric,  logic,  music,  and  arithmetic,  but  also  in 
the  remaining  two  of  the  seven  departments  then  con- 
ceived to  constitute  the  whole  field  of  human  learning, 
geometry  and  astronomy  ;  sciences  of  which,  remarks 

OF   THE   BLIND.  255 

the  narrator,  it  is  scarcely  conceivable  how  any  know- 
ledge could  be  obtained  without  the  assistance  of  the 
eyes.  Didyraus,  like  Saunderson,  pursued  his  stu- 
dies by  employing  persons  to  read  to  him.  One  of 
his  disciples,  PalladiuSj  remarks,  that  blindness,  which 
is  to  others  so  terrible  a  misfortune,  was  the  greatest 
of  blessings  to  Didymus ;  inasmuch  as,  by  removing 
from  him  all  objects  that  would  have  distracted  his  at- 
tention, it  left  his  faculties  at  much  greater  liberty  for 
the  study  of  the  sciences,  than  he  would  otherwise 
have  enjoyed.  He,  himself,  however,  does  not  seem 
to  have  been  altogether  of  this  opinion,  since  we  find 
it  recorded,  that  when  St.  Anthony,  (who,  attracted 
by  the  report  of  his  wonderful  learning  and  sanctity, 
had  come  from  the  desert  to  pay  him  a  visit,)  put  to 
him  the  question,  "Are  you  grieved  that  you  are 
blind?" — although  it  was  repeated  several  times,  Didy- 
mus could  not  be  prevailed  upon  to  return  any  other 
answer  than  that  he  certainly  was ;  greatly  to  the 
mortification  of  the  Saint,  who  was  astonished  that  a 
wise  man  should  lament  the  loss  of  a  faculty,  which 
we  only  possess,  as  he  chose  to  express  it,  in  common 
with  the  gnats  and  ants.  The  learned  and  pious 
Joseph  Milner,  in  speaking  of  Didymus  as  a  Christian 
philosopher,  makes  the  following  remarks :  "  as  far 
as  appears,  he  continued  always  sound,  and  T  hope, 
humble  and  holy,  in  Christian  doctrine  ;  his  treatise 
on  the  Holy  Spirit,  of  which,  only  the  Latin  transla- 
tion by  Jerome  has  come  down  to  us,  is  perhaps  the 
best  the  Christian  world  ever  saw  on  the  subject,  and, 
whatever  has  been  said  since  that  time  in  defence  of 
the  divinity  and  personality  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  seems, 


in  substance,  to  be  found  in  that  book.  He  was  par- 
ticularly attached  to  the  study  of  the  Scriptures,  and 
was  chosen  as  a  proper  person  to  fill  the  chair,  in  the 
famous  divinity  school  at  Alexandria.  His  high  re- 
putation drew  a  great  number  of  scholars  to  him, 
among  the  principal  of  whom  were  Jerome,  Rufinus, 
Palladius,  and  Isidore.  He  read  lectures  with  won- 
derful facility,  answered,  upon  the  spot,  all  questions 
and  difficulties  relating  to  the  Holy  Scriptures,  and 
refuted  the  objections  which  cavillers  raised  against 
the  orthodox  faith.  Didymus  was  the  author  of  a 
great  number  of  works,  the  titles  of  which  Jerome  has 
preserved,  in  his  catalogue  of  Ecclesiastical  Writers  ; 
his  commentaries  upon  the  Scriptures,  which  were 
very  large,  are  lost.  He  died  in  398,  aged  eighty- 
five  years." 


Milner's  Church  History,  Yol.  2nd. — The  Library  of  Enter- 
tainiog  Knowledge,  vol..  1. 


"  The  service  past,  around  the  pious  man, 

With  steady  zeal,  each  honest  rustic  ran ; 

E'en  children  followed,  with  endearing  wile, 

And  plucked  his  gown,  to  share  the  good  man's  smile." 

"  In  my  rambles  last  summer,"  says  the  writer 
from  whom  this  account  is  taken,  "  on  the  borders  of 
Wales,  I  found  myself  one  morning  alone  on  the 

OF    THE    BLIND.  257 

banks    of  the   beautiful  river  Wye,   without  a  ser- 
vant or  a  guide,    I  had   to  ford  the  river,  at  a  jDlace 
where,  according  to  the  instructions  given  me  at  the 
nearest  hamlet,  if  I  diverged  ever  so  little  from  the 
marks,  which  the  rippling  of  the  current  made  as  it 
passed  over  a  ledge  rock,  I   should   sink  twice  the 
depth  of  myself  and  horse.     While  I  stood  hesitating 
on  the  margin,  viewing  attentively  the  course  of  the 
ford,  a  person  passed  me  on  the  canter,  and  the  next 
instant  I  saw  him  plunge  into  the  river;  presuming  on 
his  acquaintance  with  the  passage,  I   immediately 
and  closely  followed  his  steps.     As  soon  as  we  had 
gained  the  opposite  bank,  I  accosted  him  with  thanks 
for  the  benefit  of  his  guidance ;  but,  what  was  my 
astonishment,  when,  bursting  into  a  hearty  laugh,  he 
observed,  that  my  confidence  w^ould  have  been  less, 
had  I  known  that  I  had  been  following  a  blind  guide. 
The  manner  of  the  man,  as  well  as  the  fact,  attracted 
my  curiosity.     To  my  expressions  of  surprise  at  his 
ventunng  to  cross  the  river  alone,  he  answered,   that 
he,  and  the  horse  he   rode,  had  done  the  same  every 
Sunday  morning  for  the  last  five  years ;  but  that,  in 
reality,  this  was  not  the  most  perilous  part  of  his 
weekly  peregrination,  as  I  should  be  convinced,  if 
my  way  led  over  the  mountain  before  us.    My  journey 
had  no  object  but  pleasure ;  I  therefore  resolved  to 
attach  myself  to  my  extraordinary  companion,  and 
soon  learned,  in  our  chat,  as  we  wound  up  the  steep 
mountain's  side,  that  he  was  a  clergyman,  and   of 
that  class  which  is  the  disgrace  of  our  ecclesiastical 
establishment ;  I  mean  the  country  curates,  who  ex- 
ist upon  the  liberal  stipend  of  thirty,  twenty,  and 


sometimes  fifteen  pounds  a  year !  This  gentleman, 
aged  sixty,  had,  about  thirty  years  before,  been  en- 
gaged in  the  curacy  to  which  he  was  now  travelling, 
and,  though  it  was  at  the  distance  of  eight  long  Welch 
miles  from  the  place   of  his  residence,  such  was  the 
respect  of  his  flock  towards   him,  that,  at  the  com- 
mencement of  his  calamity,  rather  than  part  with  him, 
they  sent  regularly,  every  Sunday  morning,  a  depu- 
tation to  guide  their  old  pastor  on   his  way.     The 
road,  besides  crossing  the  river  we  had  just  passed, 
led  over  a  craggy  mountain,  on  whose  top  innumerable 
and  uncertain   bogs    were   constantly   forming,   but 
which,  nevertheless,  by  the  instinct   of  his    Welch 
poney,  this  blind  man  has  actually  crossed  alone  for 
the  last  five  years,  having  so  long  dismissed  the  assist- 
ance of  guides.    While  our  talk  beguiled  the  way,  we 
insensibly  arrived  within  sight  of  his  village  church, 
which  was  seated  in  a  deep  and  nan'ow  vale.     As  I 
looked  down  upon  it,  the  bright  verdure  of  the  mea- 
dows, which  were  here  and   there   chequered   with 
patches  of  yellow  com ;  the  moving  herd  of  cattle; 
the  rich  foliage  of  the  groves  of  oak,  hanging  irregu- 
larly over  its  sides;  the  white  houses  of  the  inhabi- 
tants, which  sprinkled  every  coraer  of  this  peaceful 
retreat;  and  above   all,  the  inhabitants  themselves, 
assembled  in  their  best  attire,  round  their  place  of 
worship  :  all  this  gay  scene,  rushing  at  once  on  the 
view,  struck  my  senses  and  imagination  more  forci- 
bly than  I  can  express.     As  we  entered  the  church- 
yard, the  respectful  'how  do  you  do  ?'  of  the  young 
the  hearty  shakes  of  the  old,  and  the  familiar  gam- 
bols of  the  children,  shewed  how  their  old  pastor 
reigned  in  the  hearts  of  all.     After  some  refreshment 

OF   THE    BLIND.  259 

at  the  nearest  house,  we  went  to  the  church,  where 
my  veteran  priest  read  the  prayers,  jDsahns,  and 
chapters  of  the  day,  and  then  preached  a  sermon, 
in  a  manner  that  could  have  made  no  one  advert  to 
his  loss  of  sight.*  At  dinner,  which  it  seems  that 
four  of  the  most  substantial  farmers  of  the  vale  provide 
in  turn,  he  related  the  progress  of  his  increased 
powers  of  memory.  For  the  first  year,  he  attempted 
only  the  j^rayers  and  sermons,  the  best  readers  of  the 
parish  mating  it  a  pride  to  officiate  for  him  in  the 
psalms  and  chapters ;  he  next  undertook  the  labour 
of  learning  these  by  heart,  and,  at  present  by  continual 
repetition,  there  is  not  a  psalm  or  chapter,  of  the 
more  than  two  hundred  appointed  for  the  Sunday  ser- 
vice, that  he  is  not  perfect  in.  He  told  me  also,  that 
having  in  his  little  school  two  sons  of  his  own,  in- 
tended for  the  university,  he  has,  by  hearing  them 
continually,  committed  the  greatest  part  of  Homer 
and  Virgil  to  memory." 

*  The  late  Dr.  Guyse  lost  his  eye-sight  in  the  pulpit,  while 
he  was  in  prayer,  before  the  sermon.  Having  finished  his 
prayer,  he  was,  consequently,  unable  to  make  use  of  his 
written  papers,  but  preached  without  notes.  As  he  was  led 
out  of  the  meeting,  after  service  was  over,  he  could  not  help 
lamenting  his  sudden  and  total  blindness.  A  good  old  gentle- 
woman, who  heard  him  deplore  his  loss,  said  to  him ;  "  God 
be  praised  that  your  sight  is  gone ;  I  think  I  never  heard  you 
preach  so  powerful  a  sermon  in  my  life.  Now  we  shall  have 
no  more  notes.  I  wish,  for  my  own  part,  that  the  Lord  had 
taken  away  your  eye-sight  twenty  years  ago,  for  your  ministry 
would  have  been  more  useful  by  twenty  degrees." 

Topladrfs  Works,  vol.  4,  page  166. 


Morning  Chronicle  of  January  21,  1791. 


Mr.    JAMES    HOLMAN,    R.N 


"Hither  he  wandered,  anxious  to  explore 
Antiquities  of  nations  now  no  more  ; 
To  penetrate  each  distant  realm  unknown, 
And  range  excursive  o'er  the  untravell'd  zone." 

This  sightless  and  enterprising  individual  is  a  na- 
tive of  Exeter;  he  lost  his  sight  at  the  age  of  twenty- 
five  years,  while  on  service  on  the  coast  of  Africa,  as 
a  lieutenant  in  the  royal  navy,  in  the  year  1811.    He 
was  subsequently  appointed  one  of  the  Naval  Knights 
of  Windsor.     In  1820,  strange  as  it  may  appear,  he 
travelled  through  France  and  Italy,   and,  in   1822, 
favoured  the  public  with  an  account  of  his  interesting 
travels  ;  which  work  was  favourably  received.     In  the 
sarae  year,  he  undertook  an  arduous  journey  through 
Russia,  Sibeiia,  Poland,   Austria,  Saxony,  Prussia, 
and  Hanover;  these  travels  he  published  in   1825,  in 
2  vols.  8vo.     His  proposed  objects  in  travelling  were 
of  so  extensive  a  character,  as  to  startle  us  in  the 
outset,  especially    when   we  recollect  his  blindness. 
He  was  unfortunately  prevented  from   executing  his 
plan,  by  his  being  apprehended  as  a  spy,  after  tra- 
velling some  thousands  of  miles,  and  spending  some 
months  in  the  midst  of  Siberia,  and  was  conducted 
from  thence  a  state  prisoner,  to  the  frontiers  of  Aus- 
tria.    Indeed,  in  Russia,  Mr.  Holman  was  called  the 
*' blind  spy;"  rather  a  whimsical  and  paradoxical  ap- 
pellation, for  a  person  totally  deprived  of  the  use  of  his 
visual  organs.     The   object  which  Mr.  Holman  had, 
in  undertaking  this  arduous  journey,  is  developed  by 

OF   THE    BLIND.  261 

himself  in  the  followiug  words:  *'0n  the  19th  of  July, 
1822,  I  emharked  in  the  Saunders  Hill  schooner, 
commanded  hy  Captain  Courtney,  then  lying  in  the 
London  docks,  and  bound  for  St.  Petersburgh,  with 
the  ostensible  motive  of  visiting  the  Russian  empire; 
but  my  real  intention,  should  circumstances  prove 
propitious,  was  to  make  a  circuit  of  the  whole  world. 
My  motives  for  concealing  so  important  a  part  of  my 
views,  it  will  not  be  difficult  to  explain;  they  are  at- 
tributable to  the  opposition  my  kind  friends  have 
always  been  inclined  to  make  against  what,  under  my 
peculiar  deprivation,  they  are  disposed  to  regard  as 
quixotic  projects;  a  feeling  on  their  parts  which  I  am 
desirous  to  suppress,  since,  on  various  occasions,  I 
have  to  charge  it  with  the  disappointment  of  my  most 
anxious  wishes.  Alas !  how  little  are  they  able  to  ap- 
preciate my  true  sentiments  and  powers,  as  developing 
themselves  in  an  intense  desire  to  occupy  the  mind, 
to  accpiire  solid  information,  and  triumph  over  those 
difficulties  which  others  might  deem  insurmountable. 
That  my  views  are  not  chimerical,  may  be  inferred 
from  the  success  which,  as  far  as  my  own  powers  are 
concerned,   has   hitherto    attended   my    exertions."* 

*The  following  brief  notice  of  this  extraordinary  man  ap- 
peared in  one  of  the  St.  Petersburgh  newspapers,  during  his 
stay  in  that  city. 

"Mr.  Holman,  a  blind  gentleman,  about  thirty-five  years 
of  age,  and  possessed  of  an  agreeable  countenance,  arrived  in 
this  city,  (Petersburgh,)  in  July  last ;  and  we  understand  that 
he  intends  to  visit  a  great  part  of  the  world.  He  enquires  into 
every  thing,  and  examines  most  bodies  by  the  touch ;  which 
astonished  us  so  much,  that  we  could  not  have  believed  it, 
had  we  not  seen  it  with  our  own  eyes.     When  he  visited  my 


Mr  Holman  gives  a  most  interesting  account  of  the 
manners  and  customs  of  the  Russians ;  their  build- 
ings, shipping,  commerce,  &c.  Being  obliged  to 
leave  Moscow,  his  mind  was  soon  seriously  occupied 
with  various  reflections  :  "  my  situation,"  says  he, 
*'  was  now  one  of  extreme  novelty,  and  my  feelings 
corresponded  with  its  peculiarity.  I  was  engaged  under 
circumstances  of  unusual  occurrence,  in  a  solitary 
journey  of  several  thousand  miles,  through  a  country, 
jjerhaps  the  wildest  on  the  face  of  the  earth,  and 
V/hose  inhabitants  were  scarcely  yet  accounted  within 
the  pale  of  civilization,  with  no  other  attendant  than 
a  rude  Tartar  postilion,  to  whose  language  my  ear 
was  wholly  unaccustomed ;  and  yet  I  was  supported 
by  a  feeling  of  happy  confidence,  with  a  calm  resig- 
nation to  all  the  inconveniences  and  risks  of  my  ar- 
duous undertaking ;  nay,  I  even  derived  a  real  inward 
gratification,  in  the  prospect  of  retirement  from  the 
eternal  round  of  pleasure  and  social  enjoyments,  in 
which  I  had  been  participating,  to  a  degree  of  satiety 
that  began  to  be  oppressive.  Again  and  again  I  in- 
terested myself,  by  contrasting  my  voluntary  exile, 
with  the  constrained  banishment  of  the  numerous  un- 

cabinet,  without  saying  a  word,  I  took  him  to  the  bust  of  the 
Emperor,  by  Orlovskii  j  after  feeling  it  a  short  time,  he  ex- 
claimed, 'This  is  the  bust  of  the  Emperor  Alexander.'  It 
ought  to  be  observed,  that  he  had  previously  examined  a  bust 
of  his  imperial  majesty,  in  which,  as  he  remarked,  the  forehead 
was  more  covered  with  hair;  he  also  very  justly  observed, 
that  the  right  ear  was  more  perfect  than  the  left,  in  the  bust 
by  Orlovskii.  Air.  Holman  also  recognized  the  busts  of  Peter 
the  Great,  Catherine  11.  Suvarof,  &c. 

Soinin^s  Russian  Journal. 

OF   THE   BLIND.  263 

fortunate  wretches,  who  have  been  known  to  languish 
away  in  the  inhospitable  wilds  I  was  about  to  traverse, 
the  remnant  of  a  protracted  existence ;  aggravated 
by  an  eternal  separation  from  all  ihe  blessings  that 
they  have  deemed  most  dear  to  them  in  life."  Having 
passed  through  Poland,  Prussia,  Hanover,  &c.  our 
author  ullimatelylanded  at  Hull,  on  the  24th  of  June, 
1824,  after  an  absence  of  two  years  and  one  day  from 
his  native  country. 

In  January,  1827,  Mr.  Holman  visited  Lichfield, 
and  seemed  greatly  interested  with  the  various  objects 
which  that  ancient  city  presented  to  his  notice ;  but 
more  particularly  with  the  beautiful  monument  by 
Chantry,  so  deservedly  deemed  one  of  the  brightest 
ornaments  of  the  cathedral,  and  which  he  examined 
with  great  attention.  His  accurate  taste  and  critical 
judgment,  respecting  the  delicacies  of  sculpture,  ex- 
cited general  admiration  and  sui-prise, 


Holman's  Travels,  London,  1825. 

264  anecdotes 

Mr.    nelson, 


In  the  remains  of  the  late  Reverend  D.  Edmund 
Griffin,  of  New  York,  there  is  a  very  interesting  ac- 
count of  a  bhnd  gentleman,  named  Nelson.  This 
accomplished  scholar  was  the  classical  professor  in 
Rutgers  College,  New  Jersey,  and  is  mentioned  by 
the  learned  editor  of  GriffiuV  Memoirs  in  the  follow- 
ing passage. 

"At  the  age  of  fourteen,  Master  Griffin  was  placed 
at  a  school  just  then  rising  into  great  celebrity.  This 
was  kept  in  the  city  of  New  York,  by  Mr.  Nelson, 
distinguished  at  that  tin:ie  as  the  Blind  Teacher,  but 
afterwards  more  widely  known  as  the  learned  classical 
professor,  in  Rutger's  College,  New  Jersey.  The  men- 
tion of  his  name  recalls  to  the  writer,  who  was  his 
college  class-mate,  the  merits  of  this  singular  man ; 
and  as  death  has  now  turned  his  misfortune  into  an 
instructive  lesson,  he  may  be  permitted  to  dwell  for  a 
moment  upon  his  eventful  story.  The  life  of  Mr. 
Nelson  was  a  striking  exemplification  of  that  reso- 
lution which  conquers  fortune.  Total  blindness,  after 
a  long  and  gradual  advance,  came  upon  him  about 
his  twentieth  year,  when  terminating  his  college 
course.  It  found  him  poor,  and  left  him,  to  all  ap- 
pearance, both  pennyless  and  wretched,  with  two  sis- 
ters to  maintain  ;  without  money,  without  friends, 
without  a  profession,  and  without  sight.  Under  such 
an  accumulation  of  griefs,  most  minds  would  have 
sunk,  but  with  him  it  was  otherwise  ;  at  all  times 
proud  and  resolute,  his  spirit  rose  at  once,  into  what 
might  well  be  termed,  a  fierceness  of  independence. 

OF   THE   BLIND.  265 

and  he  resolved  within  himself  to  be  indebted  for  sup- 
port to  no  exertions  but  his  own.  His  classical 
education,  which,  owing  to  his  feeble  vision,  had  been 
necessarily  imperfect,  he  now  determined  to  complete; 
and  immediately  entered  upon  the  apparently  hopeless 
task,  with  a  view  to  6t  himself  as  a  teacher  of  youth. 
He  instructed  his  sisters  in  the  pronunciation  of  Greek 
and  Latin,  and  employed  one  or  other  constantly,  in 
the  task  of  reading  aloud  to  him  the  classics  usually 
taught  in  the  schools.  A  naturally  faithful  memory, 
spurred  on  by  such  strong  excitement,  performed  its 
oft-repeated  miracles,  and  in  a  space  of  time  incredi- 
bly short,  he  became  master  of  their  contents,  even 
to  the  minutest  points  of  critical  reading.  In  illustra- 
tion of  this,  the  author  remembers  on  one  occasion, 
that  a  dispute  having  arisen  between  Mr.  N.  and  the 
Classical  Professor  of  the  College,  as  to  the  construc- 
tion of  a  passage  in  Virgil,  from  which  his  students 
were  reciting,  the  Professor  appealed  to  the  circum- 
stance of  a  comma  in  the  sentence,  as  conclusive  of 
the  question.  'True,'  said  Mr.  N.,  colouring  with 
strong  emotion  ;  '  but  permit  me  to  observe,'  said  be, 
turning  his  sightless  eyeballs  towards  the  book  he  held 
in  his  hand,  '  that,  in  my  Heynes  edition,  it  is  a 
colon,  and  not  a  comma.' 

'*  At  this  period,  a  gentleman,  who  incidentally  be- 
came acquainted  with  his  history,  in  a  feeling  some- 
what between  pity  and  confidence,  placed  his  two  sons 
under  his  charge,  with  a  view  to  enable  him  to  try 
the  experiment  of  teaching.  A  few  months'  trial 
was  sufficient ;  he  then  fearlessly  appeared  before  the 
public,  and  at  once  challenged  a  comparison  with  the 


best  established  classical  schools  in  the  city.*  The 
novelty  and  boldness  of  the  attempt  attracted  general 
attention  ;  the  lofty  confidence  he  displayed  in  him- 
self excited  respect ;  and  soon,  bis  untiring  assiduity, 
his  real  knowledge,  and  a  burning  zeal,  which,  know- 
ing no  bounds  in  his  own  devotion  to  his  scholars, 
awakened  somewhat  of  a  corresponding  spirit  in  their 
minds,  completed  the  conquest.  His  reputation 
spread  daily;  scholars  flocked  to  him  in  crowds; 
competition  sunk  before  him ;  and,  in  the  course  of  a 
few  years,  he  found  himself  in  the  enjoyment  of  an 
income  superior  to  that  of  any  college  patronage  in 
the  United  States,  with,  to  him,  the  infinitely  higher 
gratification  of  having  risen  above  the  pity  of  the 
world,  and  fought  his  own  blind  way  to  honourable 

*  Sir  Keuelm  Digby  mentions  a  blind  man  who  lived  in  his 
house,  and  was  preceptor  to  his  sons,  the  loss  of  whose  sight 
seemed  to  be  ovei-paid  by  his  other  abilities.  He  could  beat 
the  cleverest  chess  players,  and  Mould  play  at  cards  and  tables, 
as  well  as  most  men  ;  and  likewise  at  bowls,  shuttleboard,  and 
other  games,  wherein  one  would  imagine  a  clear  sight  to  be 
absolutely  requisite.  "When  he  taught  his  scholars  to  declaim, 
represent  a  tragedy,  or  the  like,  he  knew,  by  their  voice,  whether 
they  stood  up  or  sat  down,  and  all  the  different  gestures  and 
situations  of  their  bodies;  so  that  they  behaved  themselves 
before  him  with  the  same  propriety  as  if  he  had  seen  them 
perfectly.  He  could  feel  in  his  body,  and  chiefly  in  his  head, 
(as  he  himself  affirmed,)  a  certain  effect,  whereby  he  knew 
when  the  sun  was  up,  and  could  discern  a  clear  from  a  cloudy 
day.  That  he  frequently  told  without  being  mistaken,  when, 
for  trial's  sa^p.  he  was  lodged  in  a  close  chamber,  into  which 
the  sunshine  had  no  admittance,  nor  did  any  body  come  to 
liim,  to  give  notice  of  the  state  of  the  weather. 

OF   THE   BLIND.  267 

independence.  Nor  was  this  all ;  he  bad  succeeded 
in  placing  classical  education  on  higher  ground  than 
any  of  his  predecessors  or  contemporaries  had  done, 
and  he  felt  proud  to  think  that  he  was,  in  some  mea- 
sure, a  benefactor  to  that  college  which,  a  few  years 
before,  he  had  entered  in  poverty,  and  quitted  in 

"The  examination  of  candidates  for  admission  into 
Columbia  College,  was,  at  that  time,  long  and  rigid, 
continuing  for  several  days,  and  terminating  in  an 
arrangement  of  their  names  in  order  of  merit.  The 
older  schools  were  not  willing  to  yield  pre-eminence 
to  a  blind  competitor,  and  their  choice  scholars  were 
therefore  studiously  drilled  for  the  occasion ;  most  of 
the  teachers,  and  many  anxious  fathers,  were  in  close 
attendance,  to  encourage  their  sons  or  pupils  by  their 
presence,  or  perhaps  to  become  judges  of  the  impar- 
tiality of  the  decision.  '  Among  these,'  says  Professor 
Mc.  Vicker,  'Mr.  Nelson  might  always  be  distin- 
guished, the  first  to  come,  the  last  to  go ;  the  most 
anxious,  and  yet  the  most  confident ;  his  blind  steps, 
as  he  entered  the  hall,  being  followed,  rather  than 
directed,  by  the  youth  who  attended  him,  so  singu- 
larly resolute  was  he  in  all  his  motions.'  His  beloved 
pupil,  Edmund  Griffin,  on  this  occasion  triumphed 
over  all  competitors,  though  some  of  them  were  much 
his  seniors,  and  of  more  than  ordinary  talents  and 


Blackwood's  Magazine,  for  July,  1832. 






This  distinguished  individual  was  bom  in  1741, 
and  was  deprived  of  her  sight  when  about  three  years 
of  age.  M.  Diderot  has  given  an  interesting  account 
of  this  accomplished  young  lady,  and  from  his  nar- 
rative we  will  give  a  few  extracts,  and  allow  the  au- 
thor to  speak  for  himself. 

"  She  had,"  says  M.  Diderot,  ''  an  unusual  fund  of 
good  sense,  the  utmost  mildness  and  sweetness  of  dis- 
position, uncommon  penetration,  and  gi'eat  simpli- 
city of  character.  In  her  dress  and  person,  there  ap- 
peared a  neatness,  which  was  the  more  extraordinary, 
as  not  being  able  to  see  herself,  she  could  never  be 
sure  that  she  had  done  all  that  was  requisite  to  avoid 
disgusting  others  with  the  opposite  quality.  From 
her  earliest  youth  it  had  been  the  study  of  those  around 
her  to  improve  her  other  senses  to  the  utmost ;  and 
it  is  wonderful  to  what  a  degree  they  succeeded.  By 
feeling,  she  could  distinguish  peculiarities  which 
might  be  easily  overlooked  by  those  who  had  the 
best  eyes ;  her  hearing,  and  sense  of  smell,  were 
also  exquisite.  She  knew  by  the  state  of  the  atmos- 
phere whether  it  was  cloudy  or  serene  ;  whether  she 
was  in  an  open  place  or  a  close  street ;  also,  whether 
she  was  in  the  open  air  or  in  a  room  ;  or  if  in  a  room, 
whether  it  was  large  or  small.  She  could  calculate 
the  size  of  a  circumscribed  space,  by  the  sound  pro- 
duced by  her  feet  or  her  voice.  When  she  had  once 
gone  over  a  house,  she  so  well  knew  the  plan  of  it. 

OF    THE    BLIISD.  269 

that  she  was  able  to  warn  others  of  any  danger  ;  she 
would  say,  '  Take  care,  the  door  is  too  low';  or,  ^Do 
not  forget  that  there  is  a  step.'  She  accurately  ob- 
served varieties  of  voiceS;,  and  when  once  she  had 
heard  a  person  speak,  she  always  knew  the  voice 
again:  she  was  neither  sensible  to  the  charms  of  youth, 
nor  shocked  by  the  wrinkles  of  age,  and  said  that  she 
regarded  nothing  but  the  qualities  of  the  heart  and 
mind.  She  was  much  disposed  to  confide  in  others, 
and  it  would  have  been  no  less  easy  than  base  to  have 
deceived  her;  it  was  an  inexcusable  cruelty  to  make 
her  believe  that  she  was  alone  in  a  room,  when  any 
one  was  concealed  there.  She  was  not,  however,  sub- 
ject to  any  kind  of  panic  terrors  ;  seldom  did  she  feel 
ennui,  for  solitude  had  taught  her  to  be  every  thing 
to  herself.  Of  all  the  qualities  of  the  heart  and  mind, 
a  sound  judgment,  mildness,  and  cheerfulness,  were 
those  which  she  prized  the  most.  She  spoke  little, 
and  listened  much;  'I  am  like  the  birds,'  said  she, 
'  I  learn  to  sing  in  darkness.'  In  comparing  thin<Ts 
which  she  heard  one  day,  with  those  that  she  heard 
another,  she  was  shocked  at  the  inconsistency  of  our 
opinions  ;  and  it  seemed  to  her  a  matter  of  indiffer- 
ence, whether  she  was  praised  or  blamed  by  beings  so 
variable.  She  had  been  taught  to  read,  by  means  of 
letters  cut  out.  She  sung  with  taste,  having  an 
agreeable  voice  ;  she  also  learned  to  play  on  the  violin, 
and  this  latter  was  a  great  source  of  amusement  to  her- 
self, by  drawing  about  her  the  young  people  of  her 
own  age,  whom  she  taught  the  dances  that  were  most 
in  fashion.  Mademoiselle  de  Salignac  was  exceed- 
ingly beloved  by  all  her  brothers  and  sisters;  'This,' 

ftr  it ;  dUei  to  diis»  BT 

tDkKtkemlanil^ — ^* 

Ae  leai  vitk  her  iw^EEmbe 

Ske       IrtHiii  dKel 
ij,  a^seso,  oi  gcaadiy.    He: 
icad  to  ber  tbe  Abbe  I>e  CaBe  s 

Ob,  pcffeedjr!'  'CtnmmUj/  sbe and, 

fbr^Ubia,  becanenoas. 

to  csrr  it  to  pffffection :  tbe 

all  bbbfe  witb  biscjcs 

I  bate  aeoilbe  Mpi  bj  wbkb 

;  fiLtftaMAwmlmtthiaamwaeci] 
he  boadbrio  of  biB^ioBH  aad  proriaccs 
oat  bj  dbrea^  of  aft  or  oC  wooly  BMie  or  lea 

'y  asd  tbe  tfipvns  by  drops  of 
dbcirase.  lowdajsaadio 
ber,  '  bfadeflMbdle,  %we  to  jmnaelf  a  cabe.'  '  I 
toe  ity'  and  At.  *  Frr*g^***  a  poiat  in  tbe  eentre  of 
dbe  cabc'  ^  is  dowu'  '  Frooi  tbb  poiat  dnar  baea 
disccdjr  to  ^  aa|^ ;  jrcm  win  tbea  bate  difided  dK 
o^'—^Iato  «z  cqaal  pfnanda,'  Ae  aasvered. 

OF   THE    BLIND.  271 

'having  every  one  the  same  faces;  the  haseofthe 
cube,  and  the  half  of  its  heiglit.'  '  That  is  true, 
hut  where  do  you  see  it  ?'  *  In  my  head,  as  you  do.' 
1  will  own  that  I  never  could  conceive  how  she 
formed  figures  in  her  head  without  colour.  She  wrote 
with  a  pin,  witii  which  slie  pricked  a  sheet  of  paper, 
stretched  upon  a  frame  :  on  this  were  })laced  two 
moveable  metal  rods,  having  a  sufficient  space  between 
them,  in  which  to  form  the  letters.  The  same  mode 
of  writing  was  adopted  in  answering  her  letters,  which 
she  read  by  passing  her  lingers  over  the  inequalities 
made  by  the  pin,  on  the  reverse  of  the  paper.  She 
could  read  a  book  printed  only  on  one  side,  and 
Priault  printed  some  in  this  manner  for  her  use.  The 
following  fact  appears  difficult  to  be  believed,  though 
attested,  not  only  by  her  own  family,  but  by  myself 
and  twenty  other  persons  still  alive.  In  a  composi- 
tion of  twelve  or  fifteen  lines,  if  the  first  letter  of  every 
word  was  given  her,  with  the  number  of  letters  of 
which  each  word  was  composed,  she  would  find  out 
every  word,  how  oddly  soever  the  composition  might 
be  put  together.  I  made  the  experiment  with  some 
poems  of  Colic,  and  she  even  sometimes  hit  upon  an 
expression  much  happier  than  that  used  by  the  poet. 
There  was  no  sort  of  needle  work  that  she  cculd  not 
execute.  She  made  purses  and  bags,  plain,  or  with 
fine  open  work,  in  difierent  patterns,  and  with  a  va- 
riety of  colours ;  garters,  bracelets,  and  collars  for  the 
neck,  with  very  small  glass  beads  sewed  upon  them 
in  alphabetical  characters.  The  following  conversa- 
tion, in  which  I  am  the  interlocutor,  will  shew  the 
learness  of  her  conceptions  on  the  arts  of  drawing, 


engraving,  and  painting.  She  said,  '  If  you  were  to 
trace  on  my  hand  the  figure  of  a  horse,  a  mouth,  a 
man,  a  woman,  a  tree,  I  certainly  should  not  be  mis- 
taken, and  if  you  were  to  trace  the  profile  of  a  person 
I  knew,  I  should  not  despair  of  naming  the  individual, 
if  the  likeness  were  exact ;  my  hand  would  become  to 
me  a  sensible  mirror,  but  great  indued  is  the  difference 
between  this  canvas  and  the  organ  of  sight.  I  sup- 
pose, then,  that  the  eye  is  a  living  canvas  of  infinite 
delicacy  ;  the  air  strikes  the  object;  from  this  object 
it  is  reflected  towards  the  eye,  which  receives  an  in- 
finite number  of  different  impressions,  according  to 
the  nature,  the  form,  and  the  colour  of  the  object, 
and  perhaps  the  qualities  of  the  air;  these  are  un- 
known to  me,  and  you  do  not  know  much  more  of 
them  'than  myself;  it  is  by  the  variety  of  these  sen- 
sations that  they  are  painted  to  you.  If  the  skin  of 
my  hand  equalled  the  delicacy  of  your  eyes,  I  should 
see  with  my  hand,  as  you  see  with  your  eyes;  and  I 
sometimes  figure  to  myself,  that  there  are  animals 
which  are  blind,  and  are  not  the  less  clear  sighted.' 
'But  explain,'  said  I,  '  the  mirror.'  '  If  all  bodies,' 
she  replied,  'are  not  so  many  mirrors,  it  is  by  some 
defect  in  their  texture,  which  extinguishes  the  re- 
flection of  the  air.  I  adhere  so  much  the  more  to 
this  idea,  since  gold,  silver,  and  polished  copper,  be- 
come proper  for  reflecting  the  air ;  and  troubled  water 
and  streaked  ice  lose  this  propert\'.  It  is  the  variety 
of  the  sensation,  and  consequently  the  various  pro- 
perty of  reflecting  the  air  in  the  matter  you  employ, 
which  distinguishes  writing  and  drawing,  a  drawing 
from  an  engraving,   and  engraving  from  a  painting. 

OF    THE    BLIND.  273 

Writing,  drawing,  engraving,  painting,  with  only- 
one  colour,  are  so  many  cameos/  *But  when  there 
is  only  one  colour',  I  inquired,  *  how  can  any  other 
colour  be  discerned  ?'  '  It  is  a^jparently',  she  an- 
swered, *the  nature  of  the  can\  a^,  the  thickness  of  the 
colour,  and  the  manner  of  employing  it,  that  intro- 
duces in  the  reflection  of  the  air,  a  variety  corres- 
ponding with  that  of  the  forms  ;  for  the  rest,  do  not 
ask  me  any  thing  more,  I  have  gone  to  the  utmost 
extent  of  my  knowledge.'  '  And  I  should  be  giving 
myself  a  great  deal  of  very  useless  trouble,'  I  replied, 
'  in  endeavouring  to  teach  3'ou  more.' " 

Thus  ends  M.  Diderot's  account  of  JMademoiselle 
De  Salignac.  She  died  at  the  early  age  of  twenty- 
two.  With  an  astonishing  memory,  and  a  penetra- 
tion equal  to  it,  what  a  progress  might  she  have  made 
in  the  paths  of  science,  if  Providence  had  granted  her 
a  longer  life. 


M.  Diderot's  Letters. — Memoirs  of  Baron  De  Grimm. 



This  lady  came  to  London  in  1730,  when  twenty- 
four  years  of  age,  with  her  father,  a  Welsh  surgeon, 
who  had  given  up  his  practice,  under  the  impression 
that  he  had  discovered  a  method  of  finding  the  lon- 
gitude at  sea,  which  would  make  his  fortime.     After 


many  efforts,  however,  to  obtain  the  patronage  of 
Government  for  his  scheme,  having  exhausted  his  re- 
sources, he  was  obliged  to  take  refuge  in  the  Charter- 
house. His  daughter,  who  Lad  been  liberally  educa- 
ted, and  had  at  first  mingled  in  all  the  gaieties  of  the 
metropolis,  was  now  obliged  to  support  both  her  father 
and  herself,  by  working  at  her  needle.  After  strug- 
gling in  this  way  for  a  maintenance  several  years, 
she  lost  her  sight  by  a  cataract;  her  situation,  it  might 
be  imagined,  was  now  both  helpless  and  hopeless  in  the 
extreme,  but  a  strong  mind  enabled  her  to  rise  above 
her  calamity.  We  are  told,  she  not  only  continued 
the  exercise  of  her  needle,  with  as  much  activity  and 
skill  as  ever,  but,  never  suffering  her  spirits  to  droop, 
distinguished  herself,  as  she  had  been  used  to  do,  by 
the  neatness  of  her  dress.  She  likewise  preserved  all 
her  old  attachment  to  literature,  and,  in  the  year  1746, 
after  she  had  been  six  years  blind,  published  a  trans- 
lation from  the  French,  of  Le  Bleterie's  "Life  of  the 
Emperor  Julian."  Her  father  having,  some  time 
after  this,  met  with  Dr.  Johnson,  told  him  his  story, 
and,  in  mentioning  his  daughter,  gave  so  interesting 
an  account  of  her,  that  the  Doctor  expressed  himself 
desirous  of  making  her  acquaintance,  and  eventually 
invited  her  to  reside  in  his  house,  as  a  companion  to 
his  wife.  Mrs  Johnson  died  soon  after,  but  Miss 
Williams  continued  to  reside  with  the  Doctor  till  her 
death.  In  1752,  an  attempt  was  made  to  restore  her 
sight  by  the  operation  of  couching,  but  without  suc- 
cess. About  three  years  after,  Garrick  gave  her  a 
benefit  at  Drury  Lane,  which  produced  two  hundred 
pounds.     Miss  Williams  appeared  again  as  an  au- 

OF    THE    BLIND.  2T5 

thoress  in  ]  766 ;  when  she  published  a  volume  enti- 
tled, "Miscellanies  in  Prose  and  Verse,"  written 
partly  by  herself,  and  partly  by  several  of  her  friends. 
She  died  in  17S3,  at  the  age  of  77. 


The  Library  of  EnterlainiDg  Knowledge,  vol.  1st. 



♦'  Superstition,  still  to  reason  blind. 
With  iron  sceptre  rules  the  darken'd  mind.' 

I  am  now  about  to  introduce  to  my  readers  a  female, 
who  though  she  was  not  distinguished  for  rank,  talents, 
or  education,  yet  deserves  particular  notice,  as  being 
one  of  that  noble  army  of  the  reformation,  who  counted 
not  their  lives  dear  unto  themselves.  Thousands  and 
tens  of  thousands  of  these  worthies  finished  their 
course  with  joy,  at  the  stake,  or  on  the  scaffold; 
"these  are  they  which  came  out  of  gi'eat  tribulation, 
and  have  washed  their  robes,  and  made  them  white, 
in  the  blood  of  the  Lamb." 

Among  many  who  glorified  God  by  suflJering  mar- 
tyrdom, in  the  reign  of  Queen  Mary  of  bloody  me- 
mory, Joan  Wast,  a  poor  woman,  deserves  never  to 
be  forgotten.  Though  blind  from  her  birth,  she 
learned,  at  an  early  age,  to  knit  stockings  and  sleeves, 
and  to  assist  her  father  in  the  business  of  rope  makind-, 


always  discovering  the  utmost  aversion  to  idleness  or 
sloth.  After  the  death  of  her  parents,  she  lived  with 
her  brother ;  and,  by  daily  attendance  at  church,  and 
hearing  divine  service  read  in  the  vulgar  tongue,  du- 
ring the  reign  of  King  Edward,  she  became  deeply 
imbued  with  religious  principles.  This  rendered  her 
desirous  of  possessing  the  word  of  God,  so  that  having, 
by  her  own  labour,  at  length  earned  and  saved  as 
much  money  as  would  purchase  a  New  Testament,* 
she  procured  one,  and  as  she  could  not  read  it  herself, 
got  others  to  read  it  to  her ;  among  these  was  an  old 
man,  seventy  years  of  age  a  prisoner  for  debt  in  the 

*  In  the  reign  of  Edward  I.,  the  price  of  a  Bible  was  £30,  a 
most  enormous  sum;  for,  in  1272,  the  pay  of  a  labouring  man 
was  only  three  half-pence  a  day,  so  that  such  a  work  would 
have  cost  him  more  than  fifteen  years'  labour.  In  the  reign 
of  Edward  III.,  the  New  Testament  of  Wickliffe's  version 
sold  for  four  marks  and  forty  pence,  or  £2.  16s.  8d.  From  1461 
to  1483,  just  at  the  time  when  the  art  of  printing  was  discov- 
ered, Faust  (or  Faustus)  sold  his  printed  copies  at  Paris  for 
sixty  crowns,  while  the  scribes  demanded  five  hundred;  but 
in  the  latter  end  of  Richard  lll.'s  reign  the  price  was  reduced 
to  thirty  crowns.  "  In  the  reign  of  Henry  VIII.,"  says  the 
^ood  old  Martyrologist,  *'  the  desire  that  the  people  had  for 
knowledge,  may  appear  by  their  sitting  up  all  night  in  reading 
or  hearing;  also,  by  their  expenses  and  charges  in  bnyiug  of 
books  in  English,  of  whom  some  gave  five  marks,  some  more, 
some  less,  for  a  book,  and  some  gave  a  load  of  hay  for  a  few 
chapters  of  St.  James,  or  of  St.  Paul,  in  English."  An  act  of 
Parliament  was  subsequently  obtained  by  the  enemies  of  truth, 
in  which  it  was  enacted,  "that  no  artifycers,  prentices, jour- 
neymen, serviugmen,  husbandmen,  or  labourers,"  were  to 
read  the  Bible  or  New  Testament  in  Knglish,  to  themselves  or 
to  any  others,  privately  or  openly,  on  pain  of  death. 

OF   THE    BLIND.  277 

Common-hall  at  Derby,  and  clerk  of  the  parish,  who 
read  a  chapter  to  her  almost  every  day.  She  would 
also  sometimes  give  a  penny  or  two,  as  she  could 
spare  the  money,  to  those  who  would  not  read  to  her 
without  payment.  By  these  means  she  became  well 
acquainted  with  the  New  Testament,  and  could  repeat 
many  chapters  without  the  book  ;  and  daily  increasing 
in  sacred  knowledge,  she  exhibited  its  influence  on 
her  life,  till,  when  she  was  about  twenty-two  years  of 
age,  she  was  condemned  for  not  believing  the  doc- 
trine of  transubstantialion,  and  was  burned  at  Derby, 
August  1,  1553. 

During  the  reign  of  the  gloomy  bigot  Mary,  one 
Thomas  Edwards,  a  boy  of  seventeen  years  of  age, 
and  also  blind,  was  bunit  alive  in  Smithfield,  for  as- 
serting that  the  Scriptures  were  the  only  authority 
we  ought  to  acknowledge.  From  the  above  facts,  the 
reader  will  see  the  honourable  share  the  blind  had  in 
that  glorious  struggle  between  light  and  darkness, 
liberty  and  slavery,  which  in  the  end  produced  the 
great  moral  revolution  that  took  place  in  the  16th 
century,  to  which,  under  God,  we  owe  all  the  civil 
and  religious  liberties  we  now  enjoy. 


Townly,  page  193. 





Mademoiselle  Theresa  Paradis,  equally  dis- 
tinguished by  ber  talents  and  misfortunes,  was  the 
daughter  of  M.  Paradis,  Conseilleur  Aulique  in  the 
imperial  service  of  Austria.  At  the  age  of  two  years 
and  eight  months,  she  was  suddenly  bhnded  during 
the  night,  as  it  should  seem,  by  excessive  fear  :  for 
there  being  a  dreadful  outcry  in  her  father's  house  of 
fire  !  thieves  I  murder  !  he  quitted  the  child  and  her 
mother  in  the  utmost  trepidation,  calling  out  for  his 
sword  and  fire-arms  ;  which  so  terrified  the  infant,  as 
instantly  and  totally  to  deprive  her  of  sight. 

At  seven  years  of  age,  she  began  to  listen  with 
creat  attention  to  the  music  she  heard  in  the  church, 


which  induced  her  parents  to  have  her  taught  to  play 
on  the  piano-forte,  and  soon  after  to  sing.  In  three 
or  four  years'  time,  she  was  able  to  accompany  herself 
on  the  organ,  in  the  Stabat  Mater  of  Pergolesi,  of 
which  she  sung  a  part  at  St.  Augustine's  church,  in 
the  presence  of  the  Empress  Queen,  who  was  so 
touched  with  her  performance  and  misfortune,  that 
she  settled  a  pension  on  her  for  life.  After  learning 
music  from  several  masters  at  Vienna,  she  w  as  placed 
under  the  care  of  Kozeluch,  an  eminent  musician, 
who  composed  many  admirable  lessons  and  concertos, 
on  puq)Ose  for  her  use,  which  she  played  with  the  ut- 
most neatness  and  expression. 

At  the  age  of  eighteen,  she  was  placed  under  the 
celebrated  empyric  Dr.  Mesmer,  who  undertook  to 

OF   THE   BLIND.  279 

cure  every  species  of  disease  by  *'  animal  magnetism." 
He  called  her  disorder  a  perfect  gutta  serena,  and 
pretended,  after  she  had  been  placed  in  his  house  as 
a  boarder  for  several  months,  that  she  was  perfectly 
cured,  yet  refused  to  let  her  parents  take  her  away  or 
visit  her.  At  length,  by  the  advice  of  Dr.  Ingenhouze, 
the  Barons  Stoerck  and  Wenzell,  and  Professor  Barth 
the  celebrated  anatomist,  and  by  the  assistance  of  the 
magistrates,  she  was  withdrawn  from  his  hands  by 
force,  when  it  was  found  that  she  could  see  no  more 
than  when  she  was  first  admitted  as  Mesmer's  patient. 
He  had,  however,  the  diabolical  malignity  to  assert 
that  she  could  see  very  well,  and  only  pretended  blind- 
ness, to  preserve  the  pension  granted  to  her  by  the 
Empress  Queen,  in  consequence  of  her  loss  of  sight; 
and,  after  the  death  of  her  imperial  patroness,  this 
cruel  assertion  was  made  an  excuse  for  withdrawing 
the  pension. 

In  the  year  1780,  Mademoiselle  Paradis  quitted 
Vienna,  in  order  to  travel,  accompanied  by  her  mo- 
ther, who  treated  her  with  extreme  tenderness,  and 
bore  a  very  amiable  and  interesting  character.  x\fter 
visiting  the  principal  courts  and  cities  of  Germany, 
where  her  talents  and  misfortunes  procured  her  great 
attention  and  patronage,  she  arrived  at  Paris  early  in 
the  summer,  and  remained  there  five  or  six  months  ; 
receiving  every  mark  of  approbation  and  regard  in 
that  capital  also,  both  for  her  musical  abilities  and 
her  amiable  disposition.  When  she  arrived  in  Eng- 
land, about  a  month  or  six  weeks  afterwards,  she 
brought  letters  from  persons  of  the  first  rank,  to  her 
Majesty  Queen  Charlotte,  the  Imperial  Minister, 


and  other  individuals  of  high  rank,  as  well  as  to  the 
principal  musical  professors  in  London.  Messrs. 
Cramer,  Abel,  Solomon,  and  other  eminent  German 
musicians  interested  themselves  very  much  in  her  wel- 
fare, not  only  as  being  a  country-woman  bereaved  of 
sight,  but  also  as  an  admirable  performer.  She  went 
to  Windsor  to  present  her  letters  to  the  Queen,  and 
had  the  honour  of  playing  ihere  to  their  Majesties, 
who  were  extremely  pleased  with  her  perfonnance, 
and  treated  her  with  that  condescension  and  kindness, 
which  all  who  were  so  happy  as  to  be  admitted  to  the 
presence  of  their  Majesties,  in  moments  of  domestic 
privacy,  experienced,  even  when  less  entitled  to  it  by 
merit  and  misfortunes  than  Mademoiselle  Paradis. 
She  afterwards  performed  before  his  Royal  Highness 
the  Prince  of  Wales,  at  a  grand  concert  at  Carl  ton- 
house,  to  the  entire  satisfaction  and  wonder  of  all  who 
heard  her ;  she  also  had  a  benefit  night,  w  hich  was 
extremely  well  attended. 


European  Magazine,  1781. 


We  have  now  to  introduce  to  our  readers  another 

young  lady  named   Salignac,  who,  like  the  one  of 

whom  we  have  previously  given  some  particulars,  was 

blind  from  an  early  age,   and   was  likewise    distin- 

OF    THE    BLIND.  281 

guished  by  attainments  extraordinary  in  one  labour- 
ing under  that  severe  privation. 

Mademoiselle  Salignac  was  a  native  of  Xaintonge, 
in  France,  and  lost  her  sight  when  only  two  years  old, 
her  mother  having  been  advised  to  lay  pigeons'  blood 
on  her  eyes,  to  preserve  them  in  the  small-pox,  where- 
as, so  far  from  answering  the  end,  it  caused   an   in- 
flammation, which  destroyed  sight.     Nature,  however, 
may  be   said  to  have  compensated  for  that  unhappy 
mistake,  by  beauty  of  person,  sweetness  of  temper, 
vivacity  of  genius,  quickness  of  perception,  and  many 
talents  which  certainly  softened  her  misfortune.     She 
played  at  revertis   (a  game  of  cards)  without  any  di- 
rection, and  often  faster  than  others  of  the  party. 
She  first  prepared  the  packs  allotted  to  her,  by  prick- 
ing them  in  several  parts,  yet  so  imperceptibly  that 
the  closest  inspection  could  scarcely  discover  her  in- 
dexes; at  every  party  she  altered  them,  and  they  were 
known  only  to  herself;  she  also  sorted  the  suits  and 
arranged    the    cards   in   their  proper  sequence,  with 
the  same   percision,    and    nearly  the   same  facility, 
as    they   who    have   their   sight.      All    she    requir- 
ed of  those  who  played  with  her,  was  to  name  eveiy 
card  as   it  was  played,    and  these  she  retained  so 
exactly,  that  she  performed  some  notable  strokes  at 
revertis,  such  as  showed  a  great  power  of  combina- 
tion and  a  strong  memory.  A  very  wonderful  circum- 
stance was,  that  she  learned  to  read  and  write ;  she 
regularly  corresponded  with  her  elder  brother,  whom 
some  mercantile  affairs  had  called  to  Bourdeaux,  and 
from  her  he  received  an  exact  account  of  every  thing 
that  concenied  them.     The  mode  adopted  by  her 


friends  in  writing  to  her  was,  to  prick  the  letters 
down  on  the  paper,  and  by  the  deUcacy  of  her  touch, 
feeUng  each  letter,  she  followed  them  successively, 
and  read  every  word  with  her  finger  ends.*  A  per- 
son scratched,  with  the  point  of  a  pair  of  scissors,  on  a 
card,  '^  Mademoiselle  de  Salignac  est  fort  aimable," 
and  she  fluently  read  it,  although  the  writing  was 
small  and  the  letters  very  ill-shaped.  In  writing,  she 
made  use  of  a  pencil,  as  she  could  not  know  when  her 
pen  was  dry  ;  her  guide  on  the  paper  was  a  small  thin 
ruler,  of  the  breadth  of  her  writing.  On  finishing  a 
letter,  she  moistened  it,  which  fixed  the  traces  of  the 
pencil,  so  that  they  should  not  be  obscured  or  effaced ; 
she  then  proceeded  to  fold  and  seal  it,  and  write  the 
direction,  all  without  the  assistance  of  any  other  per- 

*The  important  art  of  printing  for  the  blind,  has,  we  are 
happy  to  perceive,  been  practically  carried  into  effect  in  Scot- 
land. Practically,  we  say,  for  though  it  has  been  introduced 
both  in  Vienna  and  Paris,  yet  from  the  faulty  nature  of  the 
alphabet  employed  in  those  places,  it  has  been  found  of  very 
little  utility.  "  At  a  meeting  of  the  managers  of  the  Edin- 
burgh Blind  Asylum,  on  the  twenty-sixth  of  January,  1828, 
after  some  routine  business,  they  proceeded  specially  to  ex- 
amine the  nature  and  efficiency  of  the  books  lately  printed  for 
the  use  of  the  blind.  Some  of  the  boys  belonging  to  the  asylum 
were  introduced,  who,  though  the  books  had  been  in  their  pos- 
session only  a  few  weeks,  and  they  had  had  no  regular  teaching 
were  yet  able  readily  to  distinguish  all  the  letters,  and  easily 
distinguished  those  which  were  most  like  each  other.  They 
were  then,  by  Dr.  Gordon  and  others  of  the  directors,  made 
to  take  isolated  words  in  different  pages  of  the  book,  which 
they  at  once  knew,  and  they  afterwards  read  slowly,  but  cor- 
rectly, the  different  parts.  From  repeated  trials,  and  varying 
the  exercises,  the  directors  were  of  opinion  that  the  art  pro- 


OF   THE    BLIND.  283 

son.  Her  writing  was  very  straight  and  well  cut,  and 
the  spelling  no  less  correct.  To  teach  this  singular 
mechanism,  the  indefatigable  cares  of  her  affectionate 
mother  were  long  employed,  vvho,  accustoming  her 
daughter  to  feel  letters  cut  out  of  card  or  pasteboard, 
taught  her  to  distinguish  an  A  from  a  B,  and  thus 
the  whole  alphabet,  and  afterwards  to  spell  words ; 
then,  by  the  remembrance  of  the  shape  of  the  letters, 
to  delineate  them  on  paper,  and  lastly,  to  arrange 
them,  so  far  as  to  form  words  and  sentences.  She 
learnt,  almost  without  instruction,  to  play  on  the 
guitar,  sufficiently  for  her  little  companions  to  dance 
to,  and  had  even  contrived  a  way  of  pricking  down 
her  tunes,  as  an  assistance  to  her  memory;  but, 
being  in  Paris  with  her  father  and  mother,  a  music- 

mised  to  be  of  the  greatest  praccical  utility  to  the  blind,  who, 
it  evidently  appeared,  would  be  able  to  use  these  books  with 
increasing  facility.  Mr.  Gall  also  stated,  that  the  writing  ap- 
paratus for  the  blind,  was  in  a  state  of  considerable  forward- 
ness; the  principles  had  been  complstely  settled,  and  found 
eflBicient.  The  letters  were  easily  formed  upon  common  post 
letter  paper,  by  one  motion  of  the  hand  ;  and  being  submitted 
one  after  another  to  the  pupils,  were  ci>rrectly  and  invariably 
distinguished  by  them." — Scotsman. 

The  benevolent  Mr.  Taylor,  vicar  of  Bishop  Burton,  whose 
surprising  success  in  cultivating  the  faculties  of  the  blind  is 
well  known,  has  published  "  The  Diagrams  of  Euclid's  Ele- 
ments of  Geometry,  in  an  embossed  or  tangible  form,  for  the 
use  of  blind  persons  who  wish  to  enter  upon  the  study  of  that 
noble  science."  It  is  a  very  happy  idea,  and  admirably  calcu- 
lated to  add  to  the  enjoyments  of  those  afflicted  with  the  loss 
of  sight,  by  opening  for  them,  in  their  dark  state,  a  new  and 
interesting  source  of  employment  and  mental  gratification. 
The  plan  is  as  simple  as  it  is  effectual. 


master  observing  the  way  used  in  writing  to  the  young 
lady  by  pricking,  taught  her  the  common  musical 
characters ;  and  to  distinguish  the  open  notes,  they 
were  made  larger.  She  learnt  to  sing,  and,  so  accu- 
rate was  her  ear,  that  in  singing  a  tune,  though  new 
to  her,  she  was  able  to  name  the  notes,  whilst  singing, 
for  them  to  be  pricked  down.  In  figured  dances,  she 
acquitted  herself  extremely  well,  and  in  a  minuet, 
with  inimitable  ease  and  gracefulness.  She  was  very 
clever  in  both  fancy  and  plain  work,  she  sewed  very 
well,  and  in  her  work  threaded  her  needles  for  herself, 
however  small.  She  never  failed  telling,  by  the  touch, 
the  exact  hour  and  minute  by  a  watch. 


Encyclopaedia  Britannica. 



"  And  if  one  sense  should  be  suppressed, 
It  but  retires  into  the  rest." 

The  phenomena  of  mind  are  at  all  times  interest- 
ing, and  many  curious  speculations  have  been  made, 
on  the  importance  of  the  different  senses.  In  the 
mental  powers  of  the  Blind,  of  which  our  anecdotes 
give  such  extraordinary  proof,  we  see  the  loss  of  one 
sense  compensated  by  the  superior  acuteness  and  per- 
fection of  the  remaining  ones;  and,  as  nature  ever  de- 

OF   THE   BLIND.  285 

signs  well,  if  she  chance  in  some  respects  to  fail,  she 
generally  takes  care  in  others  to  atone  for  such  defi- 
ciencies. ''  Where  the  mind  is  properly  constituted," 
says  Lieut.  Holman,  "the  diminution  of  one  faculty 
naturally  calls  others  into  more  extensive  action;  in 
short,  there  are  very  few  obstacles  which  man's  per- 
severance may  not  enable  him  to  overcome,  if  he  will 
but  rightly  exercise  those  faculties  with  which  the 
beneficence  of  his  Creator  has  endowed  him." 

G.  E.  RuMPH,  OR  RuMPFius,  Doctor  of  physic 
in  the  University  of  Hanau,  and  a  member  of  the 
Academy  of  Naturalists,  was  born  at  Hanau,  1637. 
He  went  to  Amboyua,  and  became  consul  and  senior 
merchant  there,  which,  however,  did  not  prevent  his 
employing  much  of  his  time  in  collecting  the  plants 
of  the  country.  Although  he  lost  his  sight  at  the  age 
of  forty-three,  he  could  discover  the  nature  and  shape 
of  a  plant,  by  means  of  his  taste  and  feeling.  He 
wrote  a  history  of  all  the  plants  which  he  had  collected 
in  Amboyna,  in  twelve  books :  it  was  not,  however, 
printed  then,  but  between  1740  and  1750,  was  pub- 
lished by  JohnBurman,  in  7  vols,  fol.,  under  the  title 
of  "Herbarium  Amboinense."  Burman  also  added  an 
Auctuarium,  with  the  table  usually  bound  at  the  end 
ofvol.  vi.  The  work  has  some  of  the  misfortunes  of 
a  posthumous  publication,  and  the  figures  are  gene- 
rally not  more  than  half  the  size  of  nature;  the 
original  drawings,  still  in  existence,  are  said  to  be 
very  fine.  Rumph  also  left  a  work  entitled,  *'  Ima- 
gines Piscium  Testaceorum,"  which  was  published  at 
Ley  den,  in  1751,  and  reprinted  in  1769  ;  the  for- 
mer edition  is  much  valued  for  the  plates.     He  wrote. 


besides,  "  The  political  History  of  Amboyna,"  which 
has  never  been  printed  ;  but  a  copy  is  deposited  in 
the  India  Company's  chest  at  Amsterdam,  and  another 
at  Amboyna. 

Ireland,  in  the  "Chalcographimania,"  says,  that 
Rumpfius,  although  quite  blind,  gave  £1000  for  a 
shell,  and  that  there  is  a  print  of  him  examining  the 
shell  by  feeling  it.  The  only  known  portrait  of  Rump- 
fius, is  one  taken  before  he  lost  his  sight;  it  is  in 
miniature,  with  an  inscription. 


General  Biographical  Dictionary. 



JSir  John  Fielding  was  brother  to  the  celebrated 
Henry  Fielding,  and  his  successor  in  the  office  of 
Justice  for  Westminster,  in  which  capacity,  although 
blind  from  his  youth,  he  acted  with  great  energy  and 
sagacity  for  many  years.  He  kept  in  his  mind  the 
description  of  many  hundred  thieves,  and  was  never 
mistaken  when  they  were  brought  before  him.  On 
receiving  information  of  the  place  where  any  stolen 
property  was  concealed,  so  unwearied  was  he  in  his 
exertions,  that  he  was  never  known  to  give  up  the  pur- 
suit till  he  recovered  part  or  all  of  the  property  that 
he  was  in  search  of.  In  short,  the  name  of  Blind 
Fielding  was  a  terror  to  evil  doers,  and  his  death  was 

OF    THE    BLIND.  287 

not  only  a  loss  to  the  city  of  Westminster,  but  to  the 
country  in  general.  He  was  knighted  in  1761,  and 
died  at  Broinj)ton,  in  1780. 

Sir  John  Fielding  published  various  tracts  on  the 
penal  code,  and  was  the  author  of  a  miscellaneous 
publication,  entitled,  the  "  Universal  Mentor."  He 
was  also  an  active  and  benevolent  promoter  of  the 
Marine  Society.  It  is  related  that  he  had  a  tube 
fixed  in  the  carriage,  communicating  with  the  coach 
box,  through  which  he  could  converse  with  the  coach- 
man, without  being  heard  by  others.  When  his  cha- 
riot was  interrupted  by  any  obstruction  in  the  streets, 
he  inquired  of  the  coachman  what  kind  of  vehicle  oc- 
casioned it,  and  would  then  put  out  his  head,  and 
shout  in  his  peremptory  tone,  "  take  that  cart  out  of 
the  way;"  or,  "you,  sir,  in  that  chaise,  drive  on!" 
This  used  to  occasion  great  astonishment  to  others, 
who  wondered  that  one  who  was  blind  could  perceive 
the  cause  of  the  stoppage,  and  was  a  source  of  much 
amusement  to  Sir  John. 


The  Gentleman's  Magazine,  for  1781. 




"  His  house  was  known  to  all  the  vagrant  train, 
He  chid  their  wanderings,  hut  reliev'd  their  pain; 
The  long  rememher'd  beggar  was  his  guest, 
Whose  beard  descending  swept  his  aged  breast; 
The  broken  soldier,  kindly  bade  to  stay, 
Sat  by  his  fire,  and  talk'd  the  night  away; 
Wept  o'er  his  wounds,  or  tales  of  sorrow  done, 
Shoulder'd  his  crutch,  and  show'd  how  fields  were  won. 
Pleased  with  his  guests,  the  good  man  leam'd  to  glow. 
And  quite  forgot  their  vices  and  their  woe  , 
Careless,  their  merits  or  their  faults  to  scan. 
His  pity  gave  ere  charity  began." 

The  Rev.  Edward  Stokes  was  born  in  1705. 
When  nine  years  old,  he  and  his  elder  brother  were 
sent  to  school,  but  an  accident  occurred  about  this 
time,  which  almost  proved  fatal  to  him.  As  his  bro- 
ther was  amusing  himself  with  a  loaded  pistol,  it  sud- 
denly went  off,  and  a  portion  of  its  contents  lodged  in 
Edward's  face  :  in  consequence  of  this  misfortune  he 
entirely  lost  his  sight.  As  soon  as  his  health  was 
sufficiently  established,  he  returned  to  school,  where 
he  pursued  his  studies  with  great  success.  From 
school  he  went  to  the  University,  at  which  place  he 
remained  till  he  took  his  degree  of  Master  of  Arts  ; 
he  was  then  admitted  into  holy  orders,  and  shortly 
afterwards  was  appointed  to  a  living  in  Leicestershire 
as  the  parish  minister.  He  was  beloved  by  the  peo. 
pie  among  whom  he  lived,  his  benevolence  knew  no 
difference  between  one  sect  and  another,  but  his  bounty 

OF    THE    BLIND.  289 

was  equally  experienced  by  all.  Notwithstanding 
his  blindness,  he  performed  the  service  of  his  church 
for  many  years,  with  the  assistance  of  a  person  to  read 
the  lessons.  At  his  death,  the  poor  of  his  parish  had 
to  lament  a  most  liberal  benefactor,  who  had  expended 
among  them  nearly  the  whole  of  a  very  handsome 
private  fortune.  He  died  at  the  Rectory  House,  at 
Blaby,  in  Leicestershire,  June,  1796,  in  the  93rd 
year  of  his  age,  and  the  50th  of  his  incumbency. 


Biographical  Anecdotes,  vol.  2. 



"  The  chamber,  where  the  good  man  meets  his  fate, 

Is  privileged  beyond  the  common  walk 

Of  virtuous  life  ;— (fuite  on  the  verge  of  Heaven." 

The  subject  of  this  memoir  was  a  native  of  Car- 
riden,  near  Borrowstounness.  He  spent  his  early 
years,  like  most  children,  in  the  keen  pursuit  of 
amusement,  while  at  the  same  time  he  became  ac- 
quainted with  the  elementary  parts  of  education.  He 
was  generally  the  leader  of  his  companions  at  their 
various  diversions  ;  but,  in  the  tenth  year  of  his  age, 
the  following  unfortunate  accident  happened  to  him. 
A  loaded  musket  had  been  carelessly  placed  where  he 
and  his  companions  were  amusing  themselves;  one  of 


them  inconsiderately  took  it  up,  not  knowing  it  was 
loaded,  and  fired  offthe  contents,  and  John  Kay  being 
close  by,  was  in  a  moment  deprived  of  his  sight.  Not 
long  after  this  melancholy  event,  his  relations  left 
their  native  parish,  and  he  accompanied  them  to 
Glasgow.  Confined  now  to  more  sedentary  employ- 
ments, he  often  amused  himself  by  making  various 
articles  of  w^ood,  which  he  executed  with  great  inge- 
nuity. For  several  years  before  his  death,  he  assisted 
his  brothers,  who  were  carpenters,  in  their  trade,  at 
which  he  wrought  constantly,  and  finished  his  work 
so  well  as  to  astonish  those  who  saw  it.  He  worked 
in  mahogany  and  other  sorts  of  fine  wood,  and  made 
various  kinds  of  furniture. 

When  going  about  the  town,  he  needed  no  person 
to  guide  him,  as  he  could  find  his  way  himself;  and, 
what  was  very  remarkable,  if  taken  to  any  particular 
house,  though  even  in  a  close,  or  up  a  stair,  he  could 
easily  return  again,  without  any  person  conducting 
him.  He  has  taken  his  friends  sometimes  to  places, 
in  the  evening,  which  they  could  scarcely  find  out  when 
they  had  occasion  to  call  again,  even  iu  day-light. 
It  was  not  unusual  for  him  to  take  a  journey  to  Pais- 
ley, and  other  neighbouring  towns,  and  to  be  the 
guide  of  any  stranger  who  might  accompany  him. 
Walking  one  day  in  the  streets  of  Glasgow  with  a 
friend,  who  warned  him  of  being  near  a  horse,  he 
said  there  was  no  need  of  that,  as  he  could  perceive  it 
himself;  being  asked  how,  he  replied,  that  he  found 
a  difference  in  the  cun-ent  of  the  air  on  his  face,  when 
near  any  particular  object,  and  that  from  this  feeling, 
he  could  even  avoid  a  lamp-post  when  he  approached 

OF   THE    BLIND.  291 

it,  which   he  was  frequently  observed    to  do,  while 
walking  alone. 

I  am  not  able,  from  any  information  which  I  have 
received,  to  point  out  the  exact  time  when  he  began 
to  pay  serious  attention  to  religion.  The  accounts 
which  were  read  to  him  of  the  success  of  missionaries, 
among  heathen  nations,  gave  him  the  most  unfeigned 
pleasure.  His  heart  was  also  much  engaged  in  the 
religious  instruction  of  youth,  and  he  was  one  of  the 
teachers  in  a  Sabbath  evening  school.  A  great  num- 
ber of  the  scholars  were  considerably  beyond  the  age 
of  those  who  usually  attend  such  schools ;  they  highly 
respected  him,  and  derived  much  improvement  from 
his  instructions.  Many  of  them  were  remarkably  in- 
structed in  the  word  of  God,  and  their  conduct  in  gen- 
eral, was  very  regular  and  becoming.  Besides  being 
so  useful  in  his  own  school,  he  took  much  interest  in 
others ;  he  was  grieved  when  any  of  them  fell  away, 
and  used  all  his  endeavours  to  keep  the  scholars  to- 
gether, or  to  collect  them  again.  Those  persons  whom 
he  thought  qualified  for  instructing  youth,  he  urged  to 
come  forward  and  take  a  part  in  this  good  work.  He 
perceived  with  regi'et,  that  the  business  of  the  schools, 
in  the  city  and  neighbourhood  with  which  he  was  con- 
nected, did  not  go  forward,  for  some  time,  with  that 
activity  which  he  could  have  wished.  This  led  him 
and  one  or  two  more  to  inquire  into  the  cause,  and, 
if  possible,  to  apply  a  remedy.  They  were  induced, 
in  consequence,  to  propose  another  plan  for  conduct- 
ing those  schools,  which  was  universally  approved,  and 
has  since  been  acted  upon,  with  great  efficiency. 
His  zeal  in  this  important  work  did  not  fall  away,  after 


the  commencement  of  his  last  illness;  he  went  to 
meet  his  young  friends,  even  when  he  was  scarcely 
able  to  address  them ;  and  they  frequently  called 
upon  him  in  his  sick  chamber,  to  receive  his  pious 
instruction.  The  words  which  he  spoke,  and  the 
prayers  which  he  offered  up  in  behalf  of  the  scholars 
and  teachers  of  his  school,  a  short  time  before  death, 
will  not  soon  be  forgotten.  I  beg  leave,  in  connexion 
with  this,  to  mention  a  little  incident  related  by  a 
friend  who  was  present,  which  happened  upon  a 
Wednesday  evening,  when  he  was  accustomed  to 
meet  his  more  advanced  pupils  for  religious  instruc- 
tion. One  of  them  had  been  idling,  and  disturbing 
some  of  the  rest,  when  he  was  calling  upon  them  in 
the  most  affectionate  manner,  to  persevere  in  the 
ways  of  truth  and  godliness.  He  quickly  perceived 
it,  and  naming  the  scholar,  said,  "I  cannot  see  you, 
but  remember  God  sees  you,  and  will  not  forget  what 
you  do ;"  and,  when  concluding  the  exercise  with 
prayer,  he  prayed  for  her  in  the  most  fervent  and 
affectionate  manner.  Indeed,  whenever  he  spoke  on 
religious  subjects,  it  was  with  a  pathos  peculiar  to 

He  was  a  zealous  friend  to  the  Religious  Tract  So- 
ciety. He  aided  its  funds  as  far  as  his  ability  reached, 
and  at  the  same  time,  used  his  utmost  endeavours 
with  those  who  were  rich,  for  the  same  purpose.  He 
took  every  opportunity  of  distributing  tracts,  both  in 
town  and  country,  and  has  been  known  to  convey 
them  into  families,  where  he  thought  they  might  be 
useful,  and,  when  he  dared  not  put  them  into  their 
hands,  to  leave  them  under  their  doors.    It  was  usual 

OF    THE    BLIND.  293 

for  him,  when  on  a  journey  from  home,  to  have  a 
parcel  of  tracts  always  in  his  pocket,  that  he  might 
bestow  them  in  the  places  he  visited,  or  give  them 
away  to  persons  whom  he  might  meet  with  on  the 
road ;  such  was  his  zeal  for  the  propagation  of  the 
Gospel,  and  so  indefatigable  was  he  in  his  eflforts  for 
the  good  of  his  fellow  creatures.  When  engaged  in 
his  daily  work,  he  was  seldom  to  be  found  without 
tracts,  and  was  accustomed  to  distribute  them  among 
the  servants  where  he  was  working.  Upon  an  occasion 
of  this  kind,  he  had  been  employed  for  several  days 
in  a  gentleman's  house,  where  he  had  frequent  op- 
portunities of  conversing  with  the  servants.  One  of 
them  appeared  particularly  trifling,  and  quite  unwill- 
ing to  enter  upon  any  serious  conversation.  He  one 
day  put  into  her  hands  some  suitable  tracts,  and  re- 
quested her  to  read  them,  which  she  promised  to  do. 
It  was  not  long  before  he  saw  a  considerable  change 
in  her  behaviour,  and  she  listened  with  more  atten- 
tion when  he  spoke  to  her  upon  religious  subjects  ; 
she  also  enquired  what  church  he  attended,  and  ex- 
pressed her  astonishment,  that  one  who  was  blind 
could  know  so  much  about  the  Bible. 

The  deceased  will  live  long  in  the  remembrance  of 
those  who  were  benefited  by  his  salutary  counsels. 
Many  who  were  in  perplexity  concerning  the  path  of 
duty  betook  themselves  to  his  advice,  and  he  fre- 
quently was  the  means  of  restoring  peace  to  the  trou- 
bled mind.  He  entered  into  all  the  feelings  of  others, 
in  the  most  sympathising  manner;  he  wept  with  those 
who  wept,  and  rejoiced  with  those  who  rejoiced,  and 
frequently  pointed  out  the  path  of  duty,  and  removed 


difSculties  which  appeared,  to  the  dejected  mind, 
wholly  insurmountable.  He  was  particularly  affec- 
tionate in  waiting  on  the  sick,  and  frequently  sat  at 
their  bed-sides,  speaking  to  them  the  words  of  con- 
solation, and  praying  with  them.  He  was  very  faith- 
ful in  the  case  of  any  of  his  brethren,  who  had  forgot- 
ten their  duty  to  God  and  his  people.  It  is  much 
to  be  lamented^  that  this  duty  is  too  much  neglected 
by  brethren  in  the  church-fellowship  ;  they  see  others 
fall,  and  are  not  careful  to  help  them,  and  point  out 
the  evil  of  their  conduct.  The  deceased,  however, 
was  an  eminent  pattern  of  faithfulness  to  his  brethren; 
he  set  the  evil  of  their  conduct  in  so  prudent,  and  at  the 
same  time,  in  such  a  forcible  manner,  before  them, 
that  he  had  often  the  comfort  of  reclaiming  them  from 
the  eiTor  of  their  ways,  while  at  the  same  time,  he 
cleared  himself  of  the  blood  of  those  who  would  ob- 
stinately go  on  in  a  course  of  sin.  We  would  not, 
however,  be  considered  as  holding  up  the  subject  of 
this  memoir  as  faultless  ;  far  from  it.  None  was  rea- 
dier than  he  to  confess  sin  ;  but  it  may  with  truth  be 
af]firmed  that  his  faults,  so  far  as  they  were  known  to 
man,  were  (ew,  and  his  virtues  many. 

I  now  hasten  forward  to  speak  of  the  wondrous  love 
of  God  manifested  towards  him,  at  the  period  when 
he  was  near  the  termination  of  his  earthly  career. 
He  had  been  nearly  six  months  afflicted  with  a  dis- 
ease, which  was  supposed  to  be  an  affection  of  the 
stomach,  and  was  quickly  wasting  away ;  during  a 
great  part  of  that  time  he  was  confined  to  his  room. 
I  should  mention,  that  in  the  prayers  I  have  already 
referred  to,  he  was  particularly  mindful  of  his  own 

OF   THE   BLIND.  295 

school,  and  he  afterwards  expressed  a  particular  desire 
that  the  Christian  friend  whom  he  had  procured  to 
teach  in  his  place,  would  continue  in  the  school ;  he 
also  desired  his  sister  to  collect  what  tracts  he  had, 

and  give  them  to  Mr.  A ,  to  go  on  with   in   the 

school,  and  to  hope  for  the  divine  blessing,  as  the 
Lord  would  certainly  countenance  his  own  ordinances, 
though,  perhaps,  not  immediately.  It  may  surprise 
some,  that  he  was  able  to  speak  so  much  when  he  was 
so  weak,  and  near  his  dissolution.  All  his  friends  who 
visited  him  that  day,  were  astonished  at  it:  they  had 
formerly  seen  him  when  he  could  scarcely  reply  to 
them,  but  now,  when,  in  reality,  he  w^as  on  the  verge 
of  eternity,  he  spoke  as  he  was  accustomed  to  do  when 
in  health.  Surely  we  must  see  in  this  the  hand  of 
God,  and  that  he  himself  spoke  truly,  when  he  said, 
''the  Lord  hath  opened  my  mouth,  that  I  might 
speak  to  his  praise."  He  was  enabled  to  converse 
until  within  a  short  period  of  the  great  change,  which 
took  place  about  seven  o'clock,  on  the  morning  of  the 
16th  of  December,  1809,  when  he  breathed  his  last, 
aged  thirty-two  years. 


The  Life  of  Kay.  Glasgow,  1816. 



Though  blind  from  his  birth,  became  a  most  ex- 
cellent perfonner  on  the  organ.  Nor  were  his  abili- 
ties confined  merely  to  the  science  of  music,  as  he 
was  a  charming  companion  and  acute  reasoner,  and 
well  acquainted  with  the  works  of  the  most  eminent 
authors,  ancient  and  modern.  Having  completed  his 
musical  studies  under  Dr.  Miller,  of  Doncaster,  he 
went  to  London,  and  was  the  successful  candidate, 
among  seventeen  competitors,  for  the  place  of  organ- 
ist of  Pentonville  Chapel,  Clerkenwell.  He  was  soon 
after  married  to  a  blind  lady  of  large  fortune ;  but, 
having  subsequently  sustained  great  losses  by  the 
treachery  of  a  friend,  he  made  a  voyage  to  America, 
where  his  performances  and  compositions  soon  brought 
him  into  notice.  He  died,  shortly  after  his  return  to 
England,  at  his  mother's  house  at  Doncaster,  on  Sep- 
tember 13th,  1800,  at  the  age  of  twenty-nine.  Being 
a  freemason,  by  his  own  request  he  was  attended  to 
the  grave  by  the  master  and  brethren  of  St.  George's 
lodge,  in  that  town. 

Mr.  JOHN  AXE, 

Was  organist  of  Whiston,  near  Rotherham.  Al- 
though blind  from  his  birth,  his  abilities  were  of  a 
very  surprising  kind,  having  a  correct  and  superior 
knowledge  of  mechanics,  music,  &c.  of  which  his 
works  will  remain  a  lasting  memorial ;  such  as  the 
chimes  in  the  borough  church  of  Hedon,  in  Holder- 

OF    THE    BLIND.  297 

iiess,  and  bis  improvements  on  organs  and  other  mu- 
sical instruments.  He  died  in  1823,  at  Sprotbo- 
rough,  Y'orksbire,  in  tbe  thirty-eighth  year  of  his  age. 


Was  blind  from  his  youth,  and  was  organist  of  the 
parish  church  of  Wakefield,  in  Yorkshire,  which  sit- 
uation he  held  for  upwards  of  forty  years.  He  died 
in  1822,  and  was  buried  in  the  above  church,  and, 
at  his  own  request,  the  following  epitaph,  which  was 
composed  by  himself,  was  inscribed  on  his  tomb-stone; 

Sovr  like  an  organ  robbed  of  pipes  and  breath, 
Its  keys  and  stops  all  useless  made  by  death ; 
Though  mute  and  motionless,  in  ruins  laid, 
Yet,  when  rebuilt  by  more  than  mortal  aid. 
This  instrument,  new  voic'd  and  tun'd,  shall  raise 
To  God,  its  builder,  hymns  of  endless  praise. 


In  1825,  resided  in  Pott's  Grove,  Pennsylvania, 
and  was  blind  from  his  youth,  caused  by  the  small-pox. 
He  was  a  respectable  citizen,  and  kept  a  public-house, 
and,  besides  attending  to  this  business  he  made  bas- 
kets of  all  descriptions,  of  a  superior  quality.  What 
was  most  singular  he  would  go  alone,  as  far  as  six 
miles  from  home,  with  his  axe,  into  a  wood,  where  he 
would  single  out  saplings  of  small  trees,  such  as  an- 


swered  his  purpose  of  making  splits,  and  cut  them 
down  to  such  lengths  as  suited  him.  He  would  then 
hide  his  axe  in  the  leaves  or  branches  of  the  trees,  and 
start  off  to  a  neighbouring  farmer,  employ  his  waggon 
and  horses  to  carry  his  wood  home,  and  then  return 
and  take  his  axe  from  the  place  where  he  had  hidden 
it :  and  this  he  would  do  without  any  individual  to 
assist  him.  He  has  been  repeatedly  seen  a  consider- 
able way  from  home,  travelling  on  the  public  road, 
and  if  he  was  asked  where  he  was,  or  where  he  was 
going,  he  always  answered  correctly.  He  was  the 
best  player  on  the  violin  in  those  parts,  and  could 
keep  the  instrument  in  as  good  repair  as  any  person. 



TiMOLEON  was  a  celebrated  Grecian  General,  who 
was  born  about  four  hundred  years  before  the  christian 
era.  He  was  a  native  of  Corinth,  and  descended  from 
one  of  the  noblest  families  in  that  city.  His  military 
talents  first  became  conspicuous,  in  an  expedition  of 
which  he  was  appointed  commander,  and  which  was 
sent  into  Sicily  by  the  Corinthians,  against  Dionysius, 
tyrant  of  Syracuse.  After  a  series  of  almost  uninter- 
rupted successes  continued  through  a  number  of  years, 
Timoleon  was  enabled  to  expel  the  tyrant  from  his 
throne,  and  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  peace  and 
prosperity  restored  in  the  island,  where  he  spent  the 
remainder  of  his  days. 

OF   THE    BLIND.  299 

After  so  much  prosperity,  when  he  was  well  ad- 
vanced in  years,  his  eyes  began  to  fail  him,  and  the 
defect  increased  so  fast,  that  he  entirely  lost  his  sight. 
Not  that  he  had  done  any  thing  to  occasion  it,  nor 
was  it  to  be  imputed  to  the  caprice  of  Fortune,  but  it 
seems  to  have  been  owing  to  a  family  weakness  and 
disorder,  which  operated  together  with  the  course  of 

It  is  not  to  be  wondered,  that  he  bore  his  misfor- 
tune without  repining  ;  but  it  was  really  admirable,  to 
observe  the  honour  and  respect  w'hich  the  Syracusans 
paid  him  when  blind.  They  not  only  visited  him  con- 
stantly themselves,  but  brought  all  strangers  who  spent 
some  time  amongst  them  to  his  house  in  the  town,  or 
to  that  in  the  country,  that  they  too  might  have  the 
pleasure  of  seeing  the  deliverer  of  Syracuse.  And  it 
was  their  joy  and  their  pride  that  he  chose  to  spend 
his  days  with  them,  and  despised  the  splendid  recep- 
tion which  Greece  was  prepared  to  give  him,  on  ac- 
count of  his  gi'eat  success.  Among  the  many  votes 
that  were  passed,  and  things  that  were  done  in  honour 
of  him,  one  of  the  most  striking  was  that  decree  of  the 
people  of  Syracuse,  "  That  whenever  they  should  be 
at  war  with  a  foreign  nation,  they  would  employ  a 
Corinthian  General."  Their  method  of  proceeding, 
too,  in  their  assemblies,  did  honour  to  Timoleon.  For 
they  decided  smaller  matters  hy  themselves,  but  con- 
sulted him  in  the  difficult  and  important  cases.  On 
these  occasions,  he  was  conveyed  in  a  litter,  through 
the  market-place  to  the  theatre ;  and  when  he  was 
carried  in,  the  people  saluted  him  with  one  voice,  as 
he  sat.  He  returned  the  civility ;  and,  having  paused 
a  while  to  give  time  to  their  acclamations,  took  cog- 


nizance  of  the  affair,  and  delivered  his  oijl:^v^n.  The 
assembly  gave  their  sanction  to  it,  and  then  his  ser- 
vants carried  the  litter  back  through  the  theatre ;  and 
the  people,  having  waited  on  him  with  loud  applauses, 
despatched  the  rest  of  the  public  business  without  him. 
With  so  much  respect  and  kindness  was  the  old 
age  of  Timoleon  cherished,  as  that  of  a  common  father; 
and  at  last  he  died  of  a  slight  illness,  co-operating  with 
length  of  years.  Some  time  being  given  the  Syracu- 
sans  to  prepare  for  his  funeral,  and  for  the  neighbour- 
ing inhabitants  and  strangers  to  assemble,  the  whole 
was  conducted  with  great  magnificence.  The  bier, 
sumptuously  adorned,  was  carried  by  young  men,  se- 
lected by  the  people,  over  the  ground  where  the  palace 
and  castle  of  the  tyrants  stood,  before  they  were  de- 
molished. It  was  followed  by  many  thousands  of  men 
and  women,  with  the  most  pompous  solemnity,  crowned 
with  garlands  and  clothed  in  white.  The  lamentations 
and  tears,  mingled  with  the  praises  of  the  deceased^ 
showed  that  the  honour  now  paid  him  was  not  a  mat- 
ter of  course,  or  compliance  with  a  duty  enjoined,  but 
the  testimony  of  real  sorrow  and  sincere  affection. 


Plutarch's  Lives. 

Printed  by  J.  W.  Showell,  48,  New-street,  Burmingbt 


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